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Planning Retirement Online

Hospitals of the future     Jan 2004

What makes for good hospital design?  

‘If my hospital was a car, it would be like a transit van - a bit old and knackered, but fits a lot in the back’ – that’s how one nurse described the hospital she worked in when asked to imagine it as a car. 


The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have launched the Healthy Hospitals campaign, calling for radical improvements in the design of new hospitals. The government plans to build over 100 new state of the art hospitals by 2010 at a cost of 11.4 billion. When this building programme is completed it will affect one in four nurses and one in four patients nationwide.   


How do nurses perceive the effect of hospital design on the recovery rate of patients and their own levels of stress and morale? A report based on the views of 500 nurses revealed the following:

  • 91% of nurses surveyed believe that a well designed hospital environment is significantly related to patient recovery rates

  • 90% of all nurses agree that working in a poorly designed hospital contributes significantly to increased stress levels

  • 90% of Directors of Nursing say that patients behave better towards staff in well-designed wards and rooms

  • 79% of nurses believe that the design of a hospital makes a difference to staff morale

  • 87% of nurses say that a well designed hospital would help them to do their job better

  • 99% of nurses agree they should be consulted on hospital design issues, but only 44% actually think they currently exert any influence

CABE invited some of Britain’s cutting edge architects and designers to generate visions for how a hospital could be designed. Four teams have produced innovative and exciting images that were put to the public vote. Now they just need to be built!


Hospitals can be dangerous places. Well over 30,000 patients die in American hospitals every year from some medical mishap, while 167,000 will suffer a serious injury that will at the very least extend their hospital stay.
The most dangerous procedure was vaginal delivery by forceps and other surgical instruments, with over 22 per cent of all procedures resulting in injury. The second highest was caused by vaginal birth without forceps, with nearly 9 per cent of all procedures injuring the patient. But postoperative sepsis-which occurs in 1.12 per cent of all patients-had the biggest impact, resulting in an extended hospital stay of an additional 11 days.

This alarming picture, prepared by researchers from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, is a 'best guesstimate' based on 7.45 million discharge records collected from 994 hospitals across 28 states in the USA during 2000.

If you are facing a hospital stay, arm yourself with a copy of the Hospital Survival Guide published by What Doctors Don’t Tell You. To order, click on this link:



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