Case Study Published: 5/11/2018

Croydon Health Services NHS Trust

How Croydon Health Services ensures robust ERIC* returns and greater estates visibility.

*Estates Return Information Collection: a mandatory collection for all NHS Trusts including Ambulance Trusts. It comprises information relating to the costs of providing and maintaining the NHS Estate including buildings, maintaining and equipping hospitals, the provision of services e.g. laundry and food, and the costs and consumption of utilities.

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“With Excitech FM we now have one central access point for all pertinent data, giving us a unified view across a relatively complex estate, where the physical situation is never static. The software is able to adapt as our space management tasks change and expand, particularly in response to government requirements.”

Chathura Premasinghe, Information Systems Manager – Estates and Facilities Directorate, Croydon Health Services


Meet Croydon Health Services
Croydon, in South London, has a population of around 380,000 people. The Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, serving the healthcare needs of these citizens, came into being in 2010 as the result of a merger of Croydon Community Health Services and Mayday Healthcare NHS Trust.

Croydon’s only Accident and Emergency department is at Croydon University Hospital (CUH, formerly known as Mayday Hospital) and is subject to a £21.25 million revamp. CUH provides more than 100 specialist services and 24/7 maternity services, including a labour ward, midwifery-led birth centre and the Crocus home birthing team.

Croydon Health Services also runs the Purley War Memorial Hospital (PWMH) which offers outpatient care, including diagnostic services, physiotherapy and ophthalmology services run by Moorfields Eye Hospital, alongside an onsite GP surgery. Across the borough there are 14 community bases, including GPs, clinics and administration offices. Croydon Health Services opened a new child development centre for children with special educational needs and disabilities in January 2017.

The challenge – Estates Return Information Collection (ERIC)
As the NHS becomes increasingly digital, with the goal of continuously improving health and social care services, the recognition that “data connects everyone and everything in the NHS”  impacts all operational practices.

While the face of digital transformation is necessarily patient-facing – to allow greater access to information and services, and drive self-service for non-critical matters – its ability to improve efficiencies behind the scenes makes a big difference to costs and everyday productivity. In common with its peers across the NHS, Croydon Health Services has both a line of responsibility to the government and a duty of care to ensure optimum use of space, particularly beds in hospitals (of which there are 531 at CUH).

Under-utilisation of assets has a negative impact on operational costs. The Estates and Facilities Directorate at CUH is directly charged with providing the data, information and support that makes more efficient space management not just simple, but instrumental in reducing costs.

Software is also fulfilling a fundamental role in enabling trusts to keep track of assets and equipment and to ensure timely maintenance schedules for physical assets of every description. It’s the Estates and Facilities Directorate’s role to look after the places where care is delivered: “Both the buildings themselves and the systems that keep them running such as heating and lighting.”

Trusting your information
Chathura Premasinghe is Information Systems Manager within the Estates and Facilities Directorate at Croydon Health Services. His role involves day-to-day liaison with estate staff and managers, supporting them not just in the ongoing running of the estate but also on capital projects as they arise.

He is faced with the challenge of bringing information together in a consistent format to provide an audit trail and demonstrate practices in line with the Carter Review; further making that same information available internally to help drive better outcomes for the Facilities Management team at Croydon Health Services.

The Carter NHS Review 2015
The Estates Return Information Collection (ERIC), was a requirement resulting from the 2015 Carter Review. This was Lord Carter’s review of efficiency in hospitals, showing how large savings could be made by the NHS.

“The NHS is under pressure to cut costs and the Carter Review suggests that through better procurement and more effective use of resources, the whole service could reduce costs by around £5 billion,” says Chathura. “Facilities Management plays an important role here, not just for Croydon, but for the entire NHS.”

“The focus on data is absolutely the right way to go, and one can imagine much sharing of information between trusts in the foreseeable future, enabling us to learn from each other by sharing best practice and truly practical lessons.”

With approximately 3,500 staff and one of the busiest emergency units in London serving around 400 people a day, at Croydon University Hospital the Estates and Facilities Directorate handles an enormous amount of estate information which is in a relatively constant state of flux.

Offices change, people come and go, new developments spawn new facilities, ageing equipment requires attention and, all the while, a rigorous and accurate record of all moves and changes must be maintained for the ERIC return.

The solution - Excitech FM: Driving efficient use of the property portfolio
It was with regards to the sharing of information, however, that Chathura asked Excitech to implement Excitech FM to provide space and move management capabilities for the trust. He had worked with the same solution in his previous role of Compliance Officer at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

“Our experience at Imperial College health care was that everybody used the system. The team understood it, found it easy to use and saw the immediate impact on their own efficiencies. At Croydon Health Services, our solution for managing floor plans and drawings as well as producing ad hoc special reports such as asbestos reports, was less easy for users to adopt. It had been leading to a low level of adoption, which created inconsistencies in formats, and the lack of a single view leading to management complexity. Responding to the detail required on an ERIC report became time-consuming, labour intensive and with an end result that may occasionally have been less robust than an efficient NHS has a right to expect it to be,” says Chathura.

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Moving forward faster: Excitech’s Collaboration with NHS Trusts
Excitech FM is a facilities management solution for space and move management which Excitech have developed numerous elements in conjunction with a number of NHS trusts.

Developed with the input of facilities teams within these trusts, Excitech FM has become virtually an ‘out of the box’ solution, enabling facility management teams to be up and running with greater visibility and control in very fast deployment times, with little to no need for special customisation.

Reports that have been requested over a number of years by various trusts are now deployed as standard, and as trusts require a new report it is added to the suite and included in future deployments. Typical layers of information required by trusts such as clinical/non-clinical/circulation areas are also now deployed as standard for any NHS customer.

From previous arrangements where information had been kept on individual computers and in some cases even as paper files (a situation which prevails in many NHS trusts still today), everything has now been brought into one place for Croydon Health Services Estates and Facilities Directorate. Reports can now be customised to reflect the changes in ERIC questions that come along each year. “Data needs to be inputted when space changes are made,” says Chathura, “But Excitech help to ease the process. I send the requisite data and formats to the Excitech technical team, and after a few e-mails, we are both happy with the outcome. This work is undertaken on the retained services agreement we have with Excitech”.

Making a difference that counts
”As a cloud-based service, with all our information securely kept on Excitech’s servers, Excitech FM is very cost beneficial for us. Critical in realising this benefit has been its ease of use. ERIC questions change every year. Last year there were questions about functions of the spaces, such as IT, general administration, staff accommodation, and HR, to name a few.  Excitech FM makes it far easier to answer these questions than would be the case with a manual approach” says Chathura.

As for the next stage, he says that the Estates and Facilities Directorate is evaluating a roll out to all departments within the trust, beyond the immediate estates team and for capital projects: “Excitech FM has made a notable difference to our costs and efficiencies, and I see no reason why that same benefit cannot be extended across all departments to provide greater visibility and optimum use of space.”

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