Special report: Are NHS purchasers ignoring innovation in the healthcare furniture market?

We ask if healthcare procurement managers are putting finance before function by failing to embrace innovative products

Manufacturers of healthcare furniture say there are now ranges available that meet strict clinical guidelines for durability and infection control but also look aesthetically good and contribute to a feeling of wellbeing among patients. Image courtesy of Knightsbridge Furniture

The scene is one most of us will be familiar with. You walk up to the entrance of your new local hospital and as impressive as the outside of the building is, as soon as you are through those doors, you are faced with row upon row of plastic chairs, formica tables and featureless reception desks.

Despite the millions of pounds spent over the past decade on bricks and mortar to create purpose-built medical centres, it is often the case that the decision on the furniture that goes into these facilities is not treated with the same level of importance.

“Where the NHS is concerned, often it is a trust procurement manager who will make the final decision about what furniture to use and his decision will be based on financial rather than product reasons,” reveals Andy Law, director at Reiach and Hall Architects in Scotland.

Where the NHS is concerned, often it is a trust procurement manager who will make the final decision about what furniture to use and his decision will be based on financial rather than product reasons

The result of this is that, while trusts rely on the vision of architects to create forward-thinking and inspiring buildings, they often seek no such support when it comes to the furniture that goes inside.

Law says: “It varies from board to board in terms of their approach to procuring furniture for healthcare buildings, but we have only managed to influence that decision once!

So why is the choice of furniture given such low priority? And what needs to be done to ensure our hospitals and health centres are as inspiring and impacting on the inside as they are on the outside?

In this special report we speak to architects, patient experience experts and healthcare furniture manufacturers and they all seem to agree on one thing – more needs to be done to challenge traditional procurement methods and to take advantage of the innovative products that are available on the market today.

Click here to download the full PDF report

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