Friday, March 16, 2007

Hospital not fit for purpose

The latest issue of Private Eye carries the story of the death of a 60 year old patient in a mental health centre in Leeds. He was the fith person to die whilst in teh care of the Becklin Centre.

The man was found on fire in a corridor.

Apparently it is one of three mental health centres in Leeds that failed fire regulations in 2005. Perhaps they need replacing? Well, no they are new build PFI units.

What is worse is that apparently the layout of the unit makes it hard to supervise patients!

This problem is of course not just a PFI problem. Lots of public buildings seem not fit for purpose before they open these days. You have to wonder how they came to be that way. Obviously the architects need some experience of working in these types of building but I suspect a bigger problem is that executives make executive decisions about what is needed with no knowledge or understanding of what the people who will end up working there will do, or how they do it.

Until we find a way of dealing with this sort of serial incompetence we will continue to build facilities that are not fit for purpose.


Anonymous said...

My wife is in a senior post in a PFI hospital which is acknowledged to be not fit for purpose and already condemned as not attaining cleanliness standards.

Once building has been commenced on these monstrosities it is difficult for those who work in them to make changes to the build as this impacts on completion clauses and costs. The result is that the inherent faults in the build are noted but nobody can do anything about it.

Benedict White said...

Anonymous, I would be interested in more detail on that. Please email me!

On the build side, I have seen non PFi hospitals made a mess of because the wrong people were involved in the design!

The same happens with schools. What looks good on paper to senior management frequently doesn't actually work. What is more if they had asked the right people it would have been done properly.

Anonymous said...

I believe local authorities, etc, used to have their own in-house architecture departments who would have been able to build up the expertise and knowledge. Importantly they would have worked more closely with those who used the buildings and over time it would be hoped that they would more easily build up a repository of best practice.

Not seen to be efficient, however..

Benedict White said...

Timothy, thanks for that. It certainly is the case that a lot of the older buildings were more fit for purpose when they were built.