It was an honour to be talking at the recent Healthy Cities Forum.

I talked about Cura, our predesigned healthcare hub, alongside other panel members: David Probert the CEO of Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS FT, who outlined the exciting plans for Project Oriel, Peter Ward who supports Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London and Gavin Miller, Director at MICA Architects, talked about the restoration of St Thomas' Campus, King's College, London.

What attracted most interest?

What was most evident and ended up being the subject of a lengthy debate was the question over true resilience, are we building for our future? Will these new buildings be of good enough quality? Will they be durable? Will they truly be energy efficient? What will they do for society and local communities?

It did get me thinking about how Cura meets these challenges.

The Cura model

Cura is a pre-designed building to accommodate health and social care in the community, which Willmott Dixon has developed in the context of the latest government policy.

A big push for modern methods of construction, including design for manufacture and assembly techniques and the Construction 2025 strategy, targets 33% lower costs and 50% faster delivery.

Looking to NHS policy, the emphasis is on bringing care closer to people’s homes and providing greater integration between health and social care.

The government announced plans to increase investment in social prescribing services just this week. It is recognised that health and social well-being can’t be separated and many of the difficulties we encounter as patients is that we have to find services in lots of different places – people often seek health care because other ways of dealing with problems such as isolation and depression are not easily available.

Integrated care hubs

The generic term for this new way of working is Integrated Care Hub and it is estimated that there will be approximately 400 new hubs nationally.

Typically a hub will serve a population size of 30-50,000; it will have a GP practice at its core and will then have services moved from hospitals, mainly out-patients, physio, plus rooms where the 3rd sector – chaplaincy services, art, yoga classes etc – can operate from.

As well as service integration there is a greater emphasis on measurable outcomes and providing value for money solutions.

Hubs will need to maximise occupancy through standard spaces that different providers can use so that the risk of having rooms that are underused is minimised – empty rooms is often a problem in highly bespoke design. Hubs need to demonstrate they are economical and more entrepreneurial. Can they be built with housing on top, for example?

At Willmott Dixon, we have looked at how we could deliver hubs to the highest quality quickly and with the best value for money.

A flexible solution

The principle of our Cura design is to have a connective module at the core, with stairs, lifts etc and service/departmental modules that can open into the core to suit differing local needs.

Customers choose the modules they need from a menu of departments that have been pre-designed taking account of best practice and accumulated experience in the sector.

Pre-design allows us to save time and money whilst adding flexibility and quality.

Going back to some of the pressing issues around resilience and energy efficiency at the Healthy Cities Forum, Cura has been designed with a pre-cast concrete frame which has thermal mass as well as high quality and durability benefits. It is a flexible solution which means the building is resilient to future service changes and building adaptability.

These innovative hubs have been designed with energy efficiency, quality and durability at the fore.

Cura buildings will be elegant and speak to the local neighbourhood, lower costs and offer the guaranteed quality that comes with off-site manufacturing. They also offer the advantages of faster delivery and programme certainty so you will know exactly when it can open for business.