Innovation and leadership drives debate at this year’s HEFMA SW branch conference

Eastwood Park was pleased to support the HEFMA SW branch conference in Taunton earlier this month, with attendance almost doubling from previous years.

With the focus on ‘Leadership & Innovation’ HEFMA SW branch chairman Adrian Eggleton, introduced and lead the day.  The sessions were both inspirational and informative with case studies providing examples of successful new initiatives and on-going change. 

The morning session started with a practical example of the transition to shared services presented by HEFMA SW Vice Chair Andy Hayes from Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Jo Mickens of Somerset County Council.  The message was clear that there are significant savings to be made.  However, Jo stressed the process was not without its challenges: “It can be cumbersome but it is important to keep everyone informed and engaged throughout. Think about what services can link together, look at the wider opportunities and engage key partners.  Be clear about the benefits in your bidding process to ensure the bid delivers on quality and clarity and be ambitious to secure funding.”

The theme of collaboration flowed through to the next speaker, Philip Shelley, Facilities Manager, Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust. Addressing soft FM services and innovation he highlighted his team’s collaboration with nurses, caterers and dieticians, Philip emphasised: “Food is a form of medicine.  Good food aids recovery and well presented and served in a social setting will minimise bed stay and proactively linked with social care will aid patients recovery. Although focusing on ‘nutrition and hydration’ for a week is good, we need to be doing it all the time.”

Chris Lawson, Head of Operational Facilities from Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust led a further session on Somerset wide estates and facilities collaboration, with emphasis on succession planning and staff retention.

Speaking on CQC visits, Mark Paget Skelin, Partner at Captsticks Solicitors highlighted that CQC were widening their focus on estates and provided pointers on the evidence required to ensure services are safe; effective; caring; responsive and well led.

Conferences concluding session was led by Geoff Neild, HEFMA National Council Vice Chair, Chair of the West Midlands Branch and Associate Director of Estates and Facilities at Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who addressed Estates Managers’ traditional focus on technical issues and problem solving, and that one of the biggest challenges is adapting and allowing teams the space and breadth to develop. Following an inspirational presentation minds focused on the differences between managers and leaders and moving towards creating a common vision and aspirational targets.  Geoff also advised the room to look out for the launch of the new HEFMA online Mentoring & Coaching Register followed by the new online Career Route Map launching later in the year.

In conclusion Chair, Adrian Eggleton, summed up what had been a stimulating and thought provoking day, thanking everyone for their contributions: “Today has been about ensuring you value yourselves and your organisations and recognising the vital role we all play in frontline healthcare.  It is about believing in yourselves and your organisation. Consider the representation of Estates & FM at Board level and ensure voices are heard.  Also in terms of shared services operate commercially as it makes sense to get to new levels of cost efficiencies.  Finally, has your Board “eaten your food and walked in your shoes” if not, inviting them to do so may be the first next step!”