An American hospital design guru is to be drafted in by NHS Estates to help improve its hospital architecture
Roger Ulrich of the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University will be asked to help the executives of NHS trusts to identify examples of best practice throughout the world. He is expected to visit the UK three or four times each year to offer advice.

Ulrich, who has prepared documents on hospital design for the US senate, visited Britain last week and impressed NHS Estates and healthcare specialists with his ideas.

Peter Wearmouth, the chief executive of NHS Estates, said: "Roger Ulrich spoke to medical colleagues on the benefits of design in the care of patients. We intend to bring him back."

Wearmouth said that Ulrich would receive a fee for his consultancy work. He said great emphasis was placed on design in hospitals in the USA because it was dominated by private service providers. Patients were only prepared to pay for hospitals with environments in which they felt comfortable.

Wearmouth has written to the RIBA asking for a seminar to be held on the question; medical practitioners and leading healthcare architects will be invited.

He hopes to find ways of improving design by helping the doctors and architects to understand each other's work better.

Roger Ulrich spoke on the benefits of design in the care of patients

NHS Estates’ Peter Wearmouth

Ultimately, Wearmouth believes this may lead to medical students studying elementary design during their professional training.

Wearmouth said: "I approached the RIBA after I noticed that one of the most important things in design is understanding the basic processes within a building."

Paul Newman, the RIBA's head of client services, said he had put together a "bespoke list of architects suitable for work in the healthcare sector".

  • NHS design champion, the Prince of Wales, has made a 15 minute CD-ROM outlining his vision of the future of healthcare design. It is set to be distributed to NHS trusts.

    The CD-ROM, made earlier this year, has been shown at conferences and NHS Estates is now seeking permission from the Prince's Foundation to distribute it more widely.