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Today's PFI hospitals 'obsolete in 20 years', warns CABE

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CABE has warned that PFI hospitals being built today will be obsolete in 20 years as the health service steps up its building works.

The commission, which published the results of a year-long study this week, predicts that changes in medical and design technology will see healthcare move out of hospitals and into community care centres.

Chair of building futures John Worthington said the findings were both 'exciting and worrying'. He said that while the rest of Europe was responding to the changes, the UK was continuing to build 'institutional hospital buildings that mimic those of the Victorian era'.

CABE's findings follow recent calls for Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) to embark on major repair and rebuilding works. NHS chiefs have told the PCTs to bring their services, from GP surgeries to pharmacy, dentistry, optical services and social care, together under one roof in new-build projects.

Outlining the new policy, chairman of Leicester City West PCT Bernard Greaves told the AJ: 'This is a tremendous challenge for architects, one that involves not only designing a building or a building complex. It will involve helping a community in health and social care leadership by getting the right kind of building brief.'

Greaves, who also trained as an architect, said: 'Architects will have to ensure that the brief they are given reflects accurately the needs of the population they're designing for.

Obviously architects are not health experts, but they need to make sure their clients have properly considered what it is they're providing.'

He added: 'The consequences of not consulting with all partners - from the local authority, to the PCT, to social services - could be a lot more serious when developing a health estate.

Unless architects consult from the start, they won't end up with a building - however beautiful it looks - that users will relate to properly.'

All PCTs throughout the country are being asked to develop an Estates Strategy.

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