Headlines: July 30th, 2004

Almost nine out of ten directors of nursing believe the design and functioning of hospital buildings has a significant impact on the performance of nursing staff. As a result of the research the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment is calling on the government to consider the importance of hospital design as a way improve staff performance and morale in the NHS.

The study was commissioned by CABE to see if design and working conditions impacted on the recruitment and retention of NHS nursing staff. It was carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP who conducted research with nurses and staff and surveyed nearly 500 Directors of Nursing in NHS Trusts across England. Eighty-six per cent of the directors said they believed design affected the way people worked within a building.

More than eight out of ten nursing leaders said they had experienced difficulties with recruiting nursing staff, and 78 per cent said the design and layout of their particular hospital was a disincentive to recruitment. External space and the inside environment were cited as ‘very important’ factors in the recruitment of nurses.

The government is undertaking the largest healthcare building programme for a generation, aiming to build more than 100 new hospitals by 2010 at a cost of more than 11 billion pounds. CABE said, with that building programme gathering pace, it wanted all those involved to take heed of the research, to ensure design was near the top of the agenda, and that the opinions of nurses were given weight to those of other clinicians and managers.

Dr David Armstrong, Director, from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, said the report built on previous research into the impact of environmental factors on pupil and student performance in schools and the further education sector