A service launched by NHS Property Services (NHSPS) has expanded the number of spaces it is offering to local communities and to businesses to provide affordable meeting, activity or office space.
The NHS Open Space scheme makes clinical and meeting space within the NHS available on a pay-as-you-go basis through an online booking system for both large and independent businesses.
NHS Open Space launched by the NHSPS, has expanded its portfolio to more than 700 rooms across 100 sites nationwide.
Offering clinical and non-clinical spaces for hire on an hourly or daily basis, with greater flexibility at an affordable price, this expansion will help the organisation towards its aim of making better use of NHS space and enabling excellent patient care.
Health and wellbeing providers looking for alternative and flexible ways to deliver services in their community can now choose from 700 clinical and non-clinical rooms nationwide, ranging from examination rooms, to group activity spaces, to offices. In addition, small business owners and community groups can use these spaces, allowing them to book rooms only for the length of time they need, easing pressure on finances and enabling them to be more flexible.
New services will join a community of more than 1,000 users who have so far made 125,000-plus bookings, accounting for more than 700,000 hours of patient service delivery. Income made from NHS Open Space bookings will be reinvested back into the health service for the benefit of patients and to help support the NHS.
Christopher King, principal strategic asset manager at NHSPS, said: “We recognise that the last year has been challenging for many healthcare providers, small businesses and community groups. We hope that NHS Open Space will help to provide a flexible and affordable option for those who are looking to continue or get back to work in the coming months.
“Safety continues to be our number one priority; our customers and patients can feel safe in the knowledge that all available sites are cleaned and maintained to the highest of safety standards.”
The programme is set to continue to grow throughout the year, with further expansions planned for autumn and winter. Throughout the pandemic, spaces have remained open for use, ensuring providers could safely continue to offer support to patients. NHS Open Space also supported the NHS in providing space for the Covid-19 vaccination programme, with at least 1,500 bookings relating to Covid-19 services since December.
Ruth Todd, clinical assistant at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, has used NHS Open Space to keep her diabetes service running during the pandemic. She said: “With every booking, I can be confident that the room will be set up, clean and ready to go – even more important this year as infection control is our top priority. This has helped me and my patients return to NHS sites when remote consultations aren’t possible, making sure my patients get the support they need during these uncertain times.”
Sarah Meredith, immunisation nurse at Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust, has found the transparency and support helpful as she moves from one booking to the next and she said: “Once an NHS Open Space room is booked on my behalf, I get an email with all the details I need. As a busy clinician, I have found it really useful to get a definite confirmation prior to a clinic that I would have a room to work from. When I’ve had any questions or issues it’s soon been resolved by the efficient on-site staff.”