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Cabe at the Design Council host regular seminars in which interested members of the public are invited to  debate the latest built environment issues, challenge the experts, network with others in the profession, and, of course, have their say. This blog post is about our recent seminar, Health and design.

At the latest Cabe seminar, we looked at the challenges faced by the built environment and healthcare sector as policy in both areas undergoes dramatic change.

The beauty of these seminars is the cross pollination of ideas and professions. Susan Francis, programme director at Architects for Health, gave us a fascinating insight into how a “golden decade of design innovation” has led to holistic thinking across the profession. But in times of change and increasing pressure on the NHS we’re at risk of losing what we have learned in the past 10 years. Having devoted so much energy to ensuring best practice and innovation when designing for the health sector, how do we ensure that this expertise is not lost? Susan argued that designers need to have a central role in leading change in the future NHS.

We were then reminded of the complexities of the procurement process by Phil Smith from NHS London. Phil discussed the enormity of the task in terms of rationalising healthcare estates and the challenges that decentralising healthcare provision brings.

Phil’s talk was followed by a tour de force from Rory Coonan, Director of Design for Circle Hospitals. The scheme at Bath (below) is the John Lewis of the healthcare world and provides a clear vision for the future: well designed, efficiently procured, and to an incredibly high clinical standard. All for less than the price of a traditional PFI scheme!

The foyer at CircleBath Hospital

The foyer at CircleBath Hospital

With input from NHS estate directors, local authorities, architects and developers, the afternoon provided much food for thought as the NHS, and indeed the planning system, undergo radical change.

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