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NHS Trusts / 17.06.2019

5 External factors set to increase pressures across soft FM disciplines in the NHS

Everyone working in and around the NHS recognises that it is an environment under constant change. Often this change is initiated from within the organisation, but we see 5 key external pressures that will increasingly affect those responsible for Soft FM functions across NHS Estates.

Focus on health and wellbeing drives innovation in food service delivery.

Now more than ever there is an increased awareness that a poor diet has a detrimental effect on our individual wellbeing. It’s not just about feeling good but also that there’s also a heightened focus on the wide range of health problems that a poor diet can cause. Paradoxically amidst this heightened awareness of health and well-being looms one of the biggest threats to public health, the well documented obesity epidemic. 

These two macro trends drive the acceleration that we at Medirest see across NHS sites we serve. Simply put, those responsible for food service are looking toward healthier options for patients, staff and visitors. This quickly becomes coupled with a proactive approach to education and incentives to encourage healthy eating.  

Political pressures and economic trends bring workforce issues

Whilst avoiding the ‘B’ word, which is across every page of every newspaper with ever raised voices from both side of the debate, there seems to be a consensus amongst commentators that attracting, retaining and recruiting the best possible workforce will become increasingly complex and challenging during 2019. 

New and innovative techniques to encourage colleagues to take on roles within the hospitality sector are required now more than ever. A growing emphasis will be put on flexible working, training and development and employee benefits.

Raised patient expectations and increased engagement adds pressure across soft FM disciplines.

Enhancing the patient experience is regarded as a potential driver of hospital performance. (You can see our previous article on PLACE scores here). What is clear that key levers on patient experience are food service and, of course, cleanliness; both highly conspicuous to patients and visitors alike. The increased emphasis on a patient centric approach that covers every aspect of the hospital facility has seen many hospitals finding innovative approaches across the FM disciplines that enhance patient experience – whilst balancing this against the inevitable budgetary pressures.  

Regulatory compliance.

Patient safety is undoubtedly of paramount importance in the healthcare sector.  However, provider’s approaches to protecting patients can vary widely. Often focus is placed on clinical and technological regulation, however the foodservice industry consists of many players to keep a track of, many different channels to get products to market, and many different strategies that can lead to success of failure in this environment.

Taking a standardised approach to compliance planning, execution and monitoring is paramount in today’s highly regulated environment. Special attention should be paid to changes in food safety regulations, in particular allergen reporting and segregation.

Smart technologies should increase efficiencies and enhance patient experience

…..but which ones and where ?

Most FM professionals in the NHS will be constantly pitched that the very latest technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT) can quickly and easily (but not necessarily cheaply!) solve every FM issue. There’s a small forest of white papers about how to develop Smart Buildings and re-engineer hard FM for instance, but what’s available for those responsible for soft services?  The answer is a good deal – and the even better news is that it is not usually attached to a huge Capex category. Whether it be enhancing patient experience by facilitating enhanced, accessible and personalised menus; reducing consumables use whilst enhancing quality across all aspects of cleaning, reducing food waste, and slimming down supply chains through smart procurement there are a wealth of retro fit technologies and associated practices that can make a significant impact for Soft FM professionals. 

If you would like to talk in more details about these trends and the impact they may have across your Estate, feel free to call Brooke Pinkney on 01822 813056 or e-mail  You will find we are happy to share case studies about how others are managing Soft FM services in the context of these trends and eager to listen to your particular challenges.

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