Inevitably, the gradual expansion of a practice over time leads to pressure on space. In some cases, clients are able to extend their existing premises but in others, moving to a new site is the only option. One current client was faced with this situation and turned to Neil Mason Associates for guidance throughout the process, including assessing different options and locations and putting a finance case together.

Assessment of Needs - It was essential in the early stages of this project to identify the practice’s space requirements both now and in the future. This included the number of consulting rooms, the number of treatment rooms, the size of waiting area and the amount of administration support space needed.

Following the current HBN 11 guidelines which set out space requirements for primary healthcare properties, we were able to calculate the total floor area needed in line with the guidelines. This data is vital for the proper analysis of the suitability of potential sites.

Site Analysis - Working with the client, we identified a number of locations and sites which would be suitable for primary healthcare use and proceeded to assess the suitability of each in turn. This involved discussion with the land owner to talk through potential issues. Indeed, for one of the sites it was necessary to draw up a possible scheme to identify how the new surgery would fit into the site in order to clarify whether it was suitable or not.

Once we had assessed all sites, we presented the client with a report detailing our findings and suggestions.

Finance - At present there are well publicised constraints on funding. Through our contacts at the PCT, we have investigated the possibility of part funding the project through other means as well as looking at other areas of possible income. This part of the project is currently ongoing while changes to the PCT structure are still being debated and formalised.

Once our client is in a position to proceed with its chosen site, the next step will be to negotiate with the District Valuer over the amount of Notional Rent that would be applied to the premises and how this would be dealt with particularly in light of the apparent lack of funding in this area. This is where our good relationship with the District Valuer comes to the fore!

Obviously the client has some way to go before reaching this point. However, by maintaining contact with the PCT at all points during the project thus far, we have ensured that the proposed premises fits with the PCT’s requirements for healthcare provision in the area.