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Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital

Category: Hospitals

"Q: How is your relationship with the concessionaire? A: We have a superb relationship. It has been superb since we started. We meet frequently and I think the success is due to the fact that we have a joint ambition to make this hospital a success - and we are."

Malcolm Stamp, Chief Executive

April, 2002

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is situated 4 miles from the centre of Norwich, close to the University of East Anglia. This new development has brought together staff and services from the Norfolk & Norwich and the West Norwich hospitals. With 953 beds this is the main site of the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital NHS Trust. It is also an undergraduate teaching hospital of the Trust's Medical School.

The PPP Forum interviewed Malcolm Stamp, Chief Executive of Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

I notice you have involved staff in the development of the new hospital. How did that happen in practice?

"Right from the beginning over 600 staff were involved in the selection of the preferred bidder. There was a scoring sheet for staff to pass comment and all departments were kept involved at every stage. A group of sisters were involved in ward design and this was signed off by the staff. Each department had a group of staff identified to complete design iterations with the architects throughout the design stage."

Some local newspapers have mentioned low staff morale because of the move?

"The move went extremely well, but in the period immediately after that there was a phenomenal increase in emergency medical patients and also a viral infection in the community leading to staff sickness. Morale is very buoyant now."

What about criticism about lack of beds because of this being a new PFI hospital?

"As you know, this is nothing to do with PFI. Bed numbers are not determined by the private sector, but by the NHS itself."

The hospital looks magnificent. Did attention to design play a core role in its development?

"The hospital was designed by an award winning architect. There are significant design features. The whole design was considered by the Royal Fine Arts Commission as part of the local authority planning consideration."

What do you think are the most important design features?

"The hospital is light and airy. There are well designed wards, the single rooms have excellent ensuite facilities. People comment on the general airiness of the hospital and wards. We also have excellent physiotherapy and occupational therapy facilities, and we have digital xray - we are a European reference site for that."

Are there particular things the staff are happy with?

"They were very pleased the move itself from the old site was such a big success - it was the biggest hospital move in Britain."

And since the move?

"It is now about settling in. It gets better all the time. Teething problems have disappeared."

Another Chief Executive mentioned to me that the main advantage he saw with his PPP was that it took away the non-clinical managerial workload such as catering and portering, leaving him with more time to manage the essential health services. Was this the case with you?

"We had contracted out many services from 1996, well before the PPP anyway, so this was not so much the case with us. We have always worked well with the private sector in the past and are quite content to continue to do so."

Have you any additional PPPs?

"We have just signed a separate PPP for oncology worth nearly £20 million."

And do you think that 25-30 year PPPs, either in your own hospital PPP or more generally, hamstring or 'mortgage' the NHS and jeopardise its future, as has been suggested by some?

"Rubbish."

And what about tightening or standardizing PPP contracts to 'protect' the public sector more?

"I do not believe standardising contracts is the right way forward. It should only be a part of the process. More weight has to be given to innovation, change and flexibility. We have got to get more innovative in contract structures and how we do the core business."

Can you see the private sector helping in other ways?

"Certainly - We have a lot to learn from the private sector, as they have a lot to gain by learning from working with the public sector."

How do you cope with defending your hospital when PFI and PPPs in the NHS are criticised?

"We should be preoccupied with making PPPs better, not defending them. The NHS has worked with the private sector since its inception. We should be working together to bring in innovation to support the modernisation agenda."

How is your relationship with the concessionaire?

"We have a superb relationship. It has been superb since we started. We meet frequently and I think the success is due to the fact that we have a joint ambition to make this hospital a success - and we are. "