NHS sets up high-powered body to look at construction design for 21st-century healthcare.
The National health Service has set up a think-tank to help create designs for hospitals of the future.

Headed by NHS Estates chief executive Kate Priestley, the think-tank includes Stuart Lipton, head of the government Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment and Martin Wyatt, chairman of the Building Research Establishment. The other nine members of the group include eminent physicians and nurses and a professor of social policy.

Priestley said the group had been set up with the help of the Department of Trade and Industry's Foresight programme. "We are charged to give hints about the products and services needed by the NHS in the future, said Priestley.

"In 12 months," she continued, "we hope to come up with the operating theatre of the next millennium." Priestley added that the body would set up subsidiary groups that will look at care homes and hospitals of the future.

The Foresight group has had one meeting so far. The BRE's Wyatt said the concepts under discussion were exciting: "We are looking at things like virtual hospitals and the effects of remote surgery," he said.

The DTI set up the Foresight programme in 1994 to help UK industry make plans over a longer period than it currently does. The DTI identified 16 industries that could benefit from looking forward 25 years, and set about bringing together people who understand the market and those who have technical expertise on the supply side. The DTI set up a transport Foresight group earlier this year.

  • Prime minister Tony Blair has requested two reports on raising the standards of architecture in public building. It is understood that one report, being overseen by Treasury chief secretary Andrew Smith, will look at how best practice in good design can be promoted across government.
The second report is being compiled by Stuart Lipton, culture minister Alan Howarth and Millennium Dome minister Lord Falconer. The aim of this report is to increase the usefulness of architects and designers, and is concerned with the development of landmark buildings for the public services.