It hardly needs stating that the pandemic has impacted almost all facets of life and work in the last 12 months. Many of the restrictions we have faced in lockdown have been about ‘protecting the NHS’ in order that intensive care wards don’t become overrun and unable to cope. However, this is not the only way the pandemic has affected the healthcare sector.
In its December 2020 report, IBIS World laid out how the pandemic has disrupted healthcare construction in the UK, and in particular how it has impacted projected revenue. This is a unique situation as according to the report, investment funding for healthcare improvement and construction has remained at the forefront of policy making as appropriate healthcare estate is essential for the delivery of our healthcare services.
During the pandemic however, Government funds previously allocated for investment in healthcare have been diverted to frontline NHS issues such as PPE and staffing, significantly impacting funding for the development of new health and social care estate.
In addition, the initial disruption to on-site construction activities in the first lockdown in March 2020, has extended project timelines for many in-progress builds and the impact on projected revenue for contractors is significant.
Other issues impacting the healthcare construction sector at present are similar to those faced by the wider construction sector, including issues surrounding supply chain and availability of materials, capacity, and carrying out construction activities whilst adhering to Covid-safe site operating procedures as outlined by the Construction Leadership Council.
There is some positive news for the sector on the horizon however, with the Government announcing £3.7 billion to build 40 hospitals by 2030, with plans to standardise hospital design and use modular construction elements to make the most efficient build process possible. This announcement is in addition to an earlier Government scheme to that will see 20 hospitals receive a share of £850 million to upgrade outdated facilities and equipment.
The pandemic has reminded us all that a modern and efficient health service is essential for the ability to deal with national and global emergencies. Whilst the impact of the pandemic on the healthcare construction sector has been significant, these funding announcements suggest that the future of healthcare construction is secure.