Published date: 01 July 2019

Insourcing cleaning services

The challenge

Every patient should be cared for in a high quality environment that is safe, clean and warm, and in doing this, clinicians can focus on the delivery of this care.

When NHS Property Services formed in 2013 to manage 3,000 properties, there were a significant number of legacy contracts with various third party suppliers providing facilities management (FM) services.

The imbalanced FM service delivery model between outsourced and self-delivered FM services created services which were overly complex to manage, contractual costs were not adequately controlled, and there was an inconsistent level of quality and compliance across our portfolio.

As a result, our customers told us they were not satisfied with the cost and quality of the services we deliver to them which we needed to address as they need to be able to focus on caring for and treating patients.

The solution

Our strategy is to deliver our core services to our customers through in-house teams where possible, including cleaning services which is one of our core FM services lines. A detailed investment/benefit appraisal was conducted and proposals presented to the Board of Directors.

The project was delivered by several colleagues across the business who worked together to deliver the mobilisation outcomes. Workstreams were formed for each element of the mobilisation and a combined plan was developed which identified the tasks and actions required, and highlighted the interdependencies between the entire mobilisation team. Workstreams that were formed included Assurance, Cleaning Training, Commercial, Financial, Helpdesk, IT Services, Operational Readiness, People/HR, Procurement, Resourcing, Communications.

Weekly mobilisation calls were held by the central project team to track progress against the overall mobilisation plan and to identify any risks. Workstreams also held other calls throughout the week where interdependencies on tasks and actions were present.

It was also important to ensure that our customers, operations team, the wider business and the workforce that were in scope to TUPE from the incumbent supplier were kept up to date and informed throughout the mobilisation. To ensure this, we communicated on a regular basis by sending updates by e-mail, holding Skype calls and by written letters where appropriate. We also included updates in the corporate communications on a monthly basis.

The impact

On 1 December 2018, 1692 people from OCS transferred to NHS Property Services. The mobilisation was delivered on time and there were no major issues encountered, and most importantly our customers did not incur any service issues.

By insourcing cleaning and developing a robust service assurance model to support, the benefits were recognised as:

  • Deliver improved experience to our customers and patients – we will offer a more consistent, high quality facilities management service, underpinned by rigorous service assurance and quality audit regimes, and with the ability to respond more flexibly to their needs. It's the NHS providing to the NHS.
  • Cost efficiency – we anticipate that cost efficiencies will be made which can be reinvested, representing improved value for money for the health system. The investment case demonstrated the potential to save £41.5m over 5 years as a result of this insourcing exercise and helps put the NHS back onto a sustainable financial path, in support of the NHS Long Term Plan.
  • Resilience and compliance – we will have direct control of service management, training, customer engagement and auditing processes so that patients and medical professionals alike can rest assured they are in a fit-for-purpose, safe, clean and compliant environment.

Insourcing cleaning services was a key milestone in delivering against our FM strategy. Cleaning is a core FM service to NHS Property Services and we want to be able to deliver this service via in-house resource wherever possible. This allows us to have greater control over our cleaning service provision, ensuring that our service offer to our customers is responsive, high quality, consistent and compliant with The National Specifications for Cleanliness in the NHS. With full control of the cleaning service, we are able to react quicker when there are emergencies or performance issues whereby this could be elongated due to contractual terms if delivered via a third party provider. We also want to focus on the emotional engagement with our NHS customers and we felt that cleaning services delivered by NHS Property Services to the NHS will help to improve this between clinical and FM teams. There is also a substantial financial benefit to delivering these services in house and this will be directly re-invested back into the NHS system helping to improve the property environment across the country which will positively impact our customers, patients and visitors ensuring that the NHS estate is fit for the future.”

Charlie Buck, Principal Services Assurance Manager, NHS Property Services