The UK Government has appointed Natalie Forrest to lead its new plans to build 40 new hospitals by 2030. This is currently the largest hospital-building project in a generation.
Ms Forrest has worked with the NHS for more than 30 years and most recently led the construction and operationalisation of NHS Nightingale London in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with this role, she was also Chief Executive of Chase Farm Hospital in North London, where she successfully led operational and clinical teams to design an innovative and ground-breaking new hospital, delivered to time, on budges and without interrupting services.
Under the Government’s programme, a total of 48 hospitals will be built by 2030, with £3.7 billion committed so far. In the North East of England, one of the schemes has received final approval to upgrade mental health facilities in the region. Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust’s new £72.6 million facilities, which are set to also improve the quality of mental health and learning disability services in the regions by combining innovative design with a holistic approach to patient care and safety.
Final approval has also been secured on Salford Royal’s £67.4 million new hospital building, and construction work will begin soon. This will be home to a major trauma centre treating patients who have experienced life-changing or life-threatening injuries – for example, after a serious road traffic accident or fall.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I’m delighted to appoint Natalie into this role. She not only brings unrivalled experience in health management and nursing, but also the construction and project management knowledge that helped turn the Excel conference centre into a Nightingale Hospital in just 9 days, as well as overseeing the rebuild of Chase Farm Hospital at pace.
“The New Hospital Programme – as part of our Health Infrastructure Plan – will transform the delivery of NHS healthcare infrastructure to build back better and will ensure our country has world-class healthcare facilities right across the country for decades to come.”
Senior Responsible Officer of the New Hospital Programme Natalie Forrest said: “I am determined to build trust in our national capability in planning and delivering hospitals, not just with health and construction stakeholders but with the staff and patients who will benefit from them on a daily basis.
“My goal will be to deliver these new hospitals cost-effectively and at speed, and to foster an ecosystem that owns, learns from and improves healthcare design.”
Starting this month, she will oversee a delivery board across the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England and Improvement, which will work closely with a network of NHS trusts.
Overall, the New Hospital Programme within the government’s long-term health infrastructure plan will help develop new sustainability standards, planning capabilities and care and workforce models. It will also implement cutting-edge digital technologies across the NHS, and will support an integrated approach to building new healthcare infrastructure using modern methods of construction.
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