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Proud to be there for the NHS

The challenge

Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust provide integrated healthcare services across Hull, the East Riding of Yorkshire, Whitby, Scarborough and Ryedale. They have 79 sites, from community hospitals and GP practices to secure inpatient mental health facilities, and cover an area of 4,700 square kilometers.

In March 2020, the country was facing the start of the pandemic, when the Trust’s reactive maintenance contractors decided to withdraw their services, as they no longer wished to work in a clinical environment. The Trust was left facing the challenges of lockdown with no one available to complete urgent facilities work. They called Sewell Facilities Management for help.


The solution

Once we’d had the call from the Trust, we knew we had to help. We consulted our team who, despite the lockdown and the risks of working in a clinical environment during a pandemic, including COVID wards, were all willing to do their bit to support NHS Humber.

Safe systems of work were quickly complied, including call out procedures, which meant the same day the Trust called us, we were able to send someone out to complete the first urgent job.

Since then, we’ve continued providing a 24/7 reactive maintenance service across all the Trust’s properties. Due to the nature of some of the sites, such as inpatient mental health wards, environments can often be challenging, with doors and windows damaged in seclusion rooms, where patients may be placed for their own safety. Seclusion rooms are vital to the clinical staff in the inpatient units, so it’s important that we fix any problems quickly, allowing them to become operational again.

Working in secure environments is also a challenge for our team. As part of the contractor site rules, which we brief the team on to keep them safe, they need to be chaperoned at all times whilst working in inpatient units. Repairs need to be done safely, and with quality to ensure a first time fix so no return visits are necessary. Our staff have to be careful not to leave tools unattended, and all repairs need to be made safe, with anti-ligature and anti-pick materials and fittings that patients can’t use to harm themselves or others.


“Sewell Facilities Management are always on hand should we require any assistance either during normal working hours or in the small hours of the night.”

Steve Leeman, Operations Manager, NHS Humber Foundation Trust


The results

Several years on from that initial call, and we’re still working with NHS Humber, the first point of call for out-of-hours call outs.

Our maintenance technicians take the time to see the bigger picture and understand issues, to prevent them happening in future. For example, when we started work in the Trust’s buildings, we had a lot of call outs for doors coming off their hinges. Our technicians noticed this pattern, and realised that it was because the doors were often getting overextended. Instead of just fixing each door issue as it arose, they recognised the problem, thought about how it could be solved, and put in a solution. This has caused a big drop in call outs for door issues, and means there’s one less thing for the clinical staff to worry about.

We’ve recently expanded our work to start helping the Trust with their water hygiene procedures, carrying out scheduled tank cleans, and doing sampling following remodelling of water systems. We also have technicians qualified to perform legionella risk assessments and water hygiene inspections, and we do tank cleans out of hours to minimise the impact on the sites.

The quantity of work we’re undertaking and range of sites we cover means that communication with the Trust is vital, so they know what we’re doing and when. As well as having access to the Trust’s online maintenance portal, we have fortnightly meetings with the Trust team, where we go to one of their sites, look around to inspect any work that needs doing, talk about current tasks we’re on with, delegate tasks between our team and the Trust’s in-house team, and prioritise upcoming work. This ensures everyone is aware of others’ workload and which activities are most important, and allows us to give the Trust specialist advice on how they can avoid issues in future, saving them time and money. We also meet regularly with Sewell Construction so we can be aware of their ongoing work across the Humber estate, avoiding duplication of work and ensuring value for money.

Jim Prest, Facilities Operations Manager for Sewell Facilities Management, has worked with the Trust since they came to us at the start of lockdown, and says the relationship has become stronger over the years.

“I’m really happy with the partnership we’ve built up with the Humber NHS team, and I think they’ve come to value and trust our staff and the work they do,” he said.

“They know they can pick up the phone to us at any time, day or night, and we’ll respond, whatever the problem. During lockdown we did everything from typical maintenance tasks and reconfiguring rooms, to helping distribute PPE to sites and moving beds. We’re here to do whatever we can to make sure the clinical staff can concentrate on helping patients get better, without having to worry about the building around them, and that’s something we’re really proud to be a part of.”

"Since being introduced to the team at Sewell FM at the start of this journey, I was always aware of the excellent reputation Sewell held within the market, and they haven’t disappointed.

Sewell took a real interest in all of our Estate, even escorting some of our Engineering teams at various sites to gain an understanding of systems across the organisation."

Steve Leeman, Operations Manager, NHS Humber Foundation Trust

A Sewell FM technician with a toolbox walks from a van into a building