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NHS ‘Think Big’ Initiative Comes To Life In Dorset

The impact of the pandemic and redistribution of resources during Covid-19 has meant that the number of patients on the waiting list for an operation at an NHS trust has significantly increased to the highest it has been in two years.

As a result, some fresh thinking was needed to tackle this ever-growing challenge.

This blog looks at how the ‘Think Big’ initiative is helping to tackle the extensive waiting lists as well as bringing diagnostic services closer to the community.

What is ‘Think Big’?

According to NHS monthly performance statistics, almost 6 million people are waiting to have hospital treatment in England. That means roughly one in every 10 people in England are on a NHS waiting list for non-urgent hospital treatment, including surgery such as a hip or knee replacement or a cataract operation.

To help alleviate the growing pressure on hospitals, NHS trusts created the ‘Think Big’ initiative.

Its purpose is to not ‘bottle neck’ pressurised hospital trusts further by moving the more high-volume, low-complexity (HVLC) treatments within specific specialties, in order to allow patients to receive surgery quicker.

In order to ascertain where this care could be provided, different locations were considered both within NHS hospitals and also within the community, including proposals of a ‘health pop-up village’.

Learn more about the ‘Think Big’ initiative by watching the video below:

Dorset Health Village

The very first example of the ‘Think Big’ initiative in practice is Dorset ‘Health Village’.

It runs outpatient appointments in a completely different way with the clinic initially covering dermatology, orthopaedics, ophthalmology and breast screening.

Located on the top floor of Beales department store, the original area was cleared with new partitions added to create a series of consultation rooms and a breast screening scanning room.

To have a look and the plans for the different areas, either click on this link, or use the QR codes on the graphic below to connect via the camera on your mobile device.

Think Big Initiative Visual

HVLC Programme

With thousands of patients waiting more than 18 months for planned surgery, the HVLC programme is aimed at supporting elective recovery and development of standardised patient pathways across regions.

Watch the latest video of the installation:

Many of the team involved with the transformation from retail space to clinic were involved with the build, design and kit out of the first Nightingale hospital in London’s Excel building and that included us here at Innova Care Concepts.

We worked closely with the construction partners CFES, architects BDP and the NHS team, on site flat out over the course of a week.

As we know the Nightingale hospitals were built in record time ready to treat thousands of people with the COVID-19 virus, located at London, Manchester, Harrogate, Bristol and Birmingham, these facilities required thousands of shelving racks to store the materials and equipment.

This is where our sister company, Dependall stepped into fill the void, being the backbone of the logistics and storage of the equipment, before being distributed to the right healthcare locations where they were urgently needed.

The shared learnings obtained from the Nightingales’ set up was a huge advantage to the team, knowing what worked in terms of construction, what could easily be re-purposed and having great existing relationships meant meetings could be held virtually saving the whole team time, carbon footprint as well as maximise the speed of the project.

Nightingale Hospital
Nightingale Hospital North West, Manchester.

For such a fast-paced project, there was limited storage on site, services from Dependall were invaluable as the team adapted to the build programme – storing materials longer when needed or shipping next day.

This enabled the team to ensure no delays were encountered to the build programme as well as save valuable funds, with no requirement to fund additional on-site storage.

How Innova Supported the ‘Think Big’ Initiative

To find out how Innova Care Concepts helped NHS Dorset from an open book procurement perspective, watch our interview with Deputy Director of Transformation, Ashleigh Boreham.

Innova NHS Portal

Set up as part of the Nightingale project, a new website service called the Innova NHS Portal was created in 2021 to meet the demand and supply for reusing the Nightingale equipment across the NHS network.

With over tens of thousands of items of equipment registered, the Dorset team were able to use the portal to view online every item so that the right equipment could be selected and repurposed.

This was a very efficient way Innova were able to match the equipment with the relevant NHS Trusts that needed the items, but also handle the logistics challenge of delivering the equipment to the right location.

It wasn’t just the teams and skills from the Nightingales that have been used, but also 1,000 of the 4,200 plasterboards came from the Nightingale stock, as well as the wash stations, over 200 light fittings; the dado rails to house the power supply and data networks; and over 90 doors.

Think Big Initiative

Nursing calls stations, desks and chairs were also re-purposed to the required spec to ensure there was consistency with the build overall.

Basically, over 70% of the site was kitted out re-using equipment and materials from the Nightingale project.

Did you know?

The main structure in place, they used 24,000 metres of metal stud, 12,000 metres of cabling and 1,000 metres of pipework for the plumbing in the construction to create 2,600 square metres of partitioned space.


Many have been impressed with this project which was turned around in a matter of weeks using materials from the decommissioned Nightingale hospitals. It is a temporary facility, but the team are keeping an eye on this type of project with a longer-term view as to its success.

All the teams that have been part of this latest initiative believe the approach of collaboration and transparency were paramount to making this a success, not just in terms of turnaround as well as delivering on the NHS’s ethos of value for money, sustainability and delivering the country’s needs.

Similar smaller projects are likely be set up in towns like Dorchester and Weymouth, so watch this space!

To find out how Innova can help with your medical facility needs, get in touch with our friendly team!


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