HUDU – Can Planning Deliver? Planning for health and social infrastructure

HUDU held a seminar yesterday. There were a good set of speakers from both the planning and health worlds. My favourites bits of the day:

Paul Corrigan – the Director of strategy & commissioning for NHS London. It was interesting to hear someone clearly articulating a strategic view of the future (and planning’s role in it) that really got me thinking. He drew out the implications of patient choice – the fact that people are not passive consumers of care but can go elsewhere if not happy means that actually planning for future provision (already a slightly wobbly activity) becomes almost impossible. Add on the advances in medical procedures, a general trend towards care in the home and the market uncertainty and you have a recipe for uncertainty. No wonder planners moan about the inability of their PCT to look more than 6 months ahead. His session really underlined the need for flexibility in plans.

Janice Morphet captured the zeitgeist of the day with her talk that covered the catchily-titled “public sector infrastructure subcomittee of the LSP”. This was referenced by almost everyone that followed – some of the practitioners mentioning that their organisations had ended up carrying out the function of the PSIS/LSP because it was the only way to get things delivered. She also helped me improve my understanding of the evidence base:

evidence = data + community preference + monitoring

  • data : all the normal facts & figures we’re used to
  • community preference : a far more dangeroususeful expression than “consultation responses”
  • monitoring : what works here ?

Lastly Stephen Catchpole (ex Cambridge Horizons, now CEx of Wolverhampton Development Company) prompted a lively debate around revenue funding that continued long after he’d sat down. What was the point of negotiating large tracts of open space, he discovered, if there wasn’t the revenue available to maintain it ?  In a health context this was echoed by PCTs handing back capital because they wouldn’t be able to staff and maintain the new facilities.

The mix of theory and practice throughout the day raised lots of tough questions and not many answers that I could take away. A great day nonetheless – slides on HUDU website shortly.

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