Space planning: how big is big?

If you are planning to expand or replace your existing premises, you need to comply with the requirements set down within NHS England’s Health Building Notes. For primary and community care, you need to review Health Building Note 11 which should be read in conjunction with the relevant parts of NHS England’s Health Technical Memorandum series.

The first, and probably most complex job is to establish room utilisation rates taking into account rates for non-attendees, unplanned activities, the complexity of scheduling your staff and the variety of staff available. You should establish a minimum utilisation rate of around 60% but you should also seek to achieve a higher rate if at all possible.

You will then need to calculate your room availability, taking into account expected patient numbers. Your room availability and utilisation rate are then compared to give you your required number of consulting/examination rooms and treatment space. At this point you also need to consider requirements for registrars, special treatment clinics, phlebotomy areas and other health advisory issues.

Support space calculations then determine the required amount of storage space, clean utility spaces and recovery areas.

The next step is to look at how much reception space you require in waiting areas, which will be dependent on your appointment systems and public access requirements. Circulation space in any new premises or extension will be influenced by the shape of the building, which in turn may be restrained by the available site. Indeed the location of the premises and the site itself will also influence the parking requirements for both staff and patients.

Administrative space is the next area that needs careful consideration. You need to accommodate the existing level of patient numbers but also allow for staff expansion to accommodate your anticipated increase in patient numbers. Administrative space is also influenced by the amount of staff sharing that is planned and the practice’s operational methods. Do you traditionally accommodate community based practitioners in your building and if so, how much space will they require? What are their support level requirements?

Rest space, staff accommodation, library and document storage space, patient and staff toilets, showers and baby changing are also considerations that have to be made to ensure a successful transition of space.

Last but not least, facility space is required for practice managers, accountants, IT provision and for training both in-house and remote.

If that isn’t enough, you will then need to consider compliance with NHS England’s Requirements for Sustainability. As a condition of NHS approval, any new building will need to have a BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Energy Assessment Method) rating of Excellent or better and any planned expansion to existing premises should look at reducing energy consumption and incorporating as many green issues as possible.

After taking all of these considerations into account, you will then be able to produce a briefing schedule which will form part of the development’s business plan. NHS England will need to see and approve your business plan even if you are seeking external funding sources.

Simple isn’t it?!

If this all seems rather daunting, feel free to give us a ring on 01604 799010. We are always happy to discuss your projects and provide initial advice.

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