Health and wellbeing providers looking for alternative and flexible ways to deliver services in response to Covid-19 can now use NHS pay-as-you-go spaces across England. Profits made from this scheme will be reinvested back into the health service for the benefit of patients and to help rebuild the NHS.
NHS Open Space, an initiative launched in Spring 2019 by NHS Property Services (NHSPS), has now reopened post lockdown, offering clinical and non-clinical spaces for hire on an hourly or daily basis, with greater flexibility and choice at an affordable price.
Health and wellbeing providers – from physiotherapists to nutritionists and mental health specialists to PT’s – can use NHS Open Space to easily find and book rooms within their local communities, while being reassured of the safety of themselves and their customers.
With the ability to book non-clinical rooms, such as private offices or meeting rooms, these spaces can also be used by businesses, community groups, or freelancers in need of pop-up working or meeting space.
The intuitive booking system means that users only pay for the time and space they need, which could provide much-needed relief on finances for independent and small businesses in the midst of the pandemic. It also makes better use of the NHS estate, driving money back into the health service at a critical time.  
Darren Jefferson, Treatment Unit Manager at bpas has managed to get his business back on track through renting space through this scheme. “Throughout lockdown, we couldn’t meet with patients, so we ran sessions from home using video-conferencing tools. As my team slowly return to normal it feels great to be back in a professional environment. Not only does this provide a space that our patients can feel safe in, it has also helped me feel a sense of normality. I finally feel like I’m getting back to business as usual all while helping the NHS.”
Kash Nazir, Commercial Director at Wren Healthcare has also been able to benefit from their local NHS Open Space site. They said: “NHS Open Space has completely changed how Wren Healthcare are able to operate our ‘fit to fly’ Covid-19 testing services.  I needed to quickly find a flexible space in an NHS building to carry this out. With this service the team at Wren are able to book flexible appointments and offer a great service to our customers as and when patients are available. It’s also really reassuring using an NHS space knowing infection control and safety is a priority, as that’s of course a key concern for our patients.”
Following a two-year pilot, NHS Open Space, which has been designed and developed collaboratively with users, currently has 20 sites open for use across England with another 40 expected to launch in the Autumn. The spaces available range from consulting rooms and examination rooms to spaces for group activities or even meeting rooms.
John Westwood, Director of Asset Management at NHSPS, said: “We know many NHS providers and healthcare related business owners will be looking for more flexible property and space options in the wake of the pandemic as ways of working and operating change. We hope NHS Open Space will help provide an alternative, cost effective option for those looking to get their services up and running in local communities, while keeping their finances healthy. It will also allow us to help wider health economies, ensuring we are using space as efficiently as possible to improve health and wellbeing, and driving money straight back into the NHS.
“For many, cleanliness and infection control will be front of mind, as they will want the confidence to inform their customers they are in a safe space. Safety has been, and still is our number one priority. Using an NHS space will help take another weight off services’  minds, as providers and patients alike can count on us to ensure that all available sites are cleaned and maintained to the highest of safety standards.”