Headlines: November 17th, 2003

A scheme designed to support National Health Service staff to improve the environment in which patients are treated, is being extended. Under the ‘Enhancing the Healing Environment’ programme, staff at London hospitals have been able to give parts of their hospitals a makeover. Now other areas of the country are to benefit.Under the scheme, nurses and other staff have been able to take advantage of a grant from the King’s Fund to use colour, light and design to brighten up their surroundings and help ditch the dreary image of grey hospital corridors. Projects range from transforming waiting rooms through to commissioning new pieces of art and sculpture.

The programme has been so successful that it is now being rolled out to 23 other Trusts across the country – one from each Strategic Health Authority. NHS Estates is making a million pounds available to fund the extension of the scheme. Further funding is coming from the Burdett Trust for Nursing, and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. The money will fund grants to each trust as well as covering the costs of providing programme support. Advice will be available from experts and practitioners to help projects get from the drawing board to reality.

Examples of what has been done in London include a scheme at the Mayday University Hospital in Croydon, where staff turned an uncared for courtyard into a Roman style garden. At Central Middlesex hospital an exhibition of photographs of current staff and patients was organised to reflect the diversity of the community, and Great Ormond Street has commissioned new pieces of art at the entrance to the operating theatre designed to reduce patient’s stress and fears.

Chief Nursing Officer Sarah Mullally said the programme showed the value of giving the power of decision-making to those who knew and understood where change was needed and supporting them to make those decisions. The initiative not only benefited patients but also gave staff the skills and confidence to have a bigger say about the surroundings in which they worked.

Further details are available at www.nhsestates.gov.uk   and www.enhancingthehealingenvironment.org.uk