NHS Open Space
NHS Property Services, owned by the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), has developed an innovative platform, NHS Open Space, to amplify the reach of its services and drive more efficient use of its real estate portfolio.
of total revenue collected automatically and reliably via direct bank payments.
failed direct bank payments, in two years and counting.
Making property pay
Public healthcare providers have had it rough recently. First, the global pandemic piled pressure onto some services and severely disrupted most others. Now, global economic challenges are increasing costs and complicating efforts to catch up on patient backlogs.
In response, NHS Property Services, which owns 10% of the NHS estate in England, is thinking creatively about how to maximise its reach and resources without adding to cost pressures. One of the results, the NHS Open Space project, is an inspiring example of the innovation potential of even the largest public organisations.
More scale, less fail
NHS Open Space is a digital platform for businesses and medical professionals to book flexible and affordable rooms in NHS properties across England. It helps more patients benefit from NHS Property Services’ estate by making more efficient use of underused or vacant space across clinical and non-clinical buildings. It has also created a welcome new revenue stream for the organisation.
Christopher King, Principal Strategic Asset Manager for NHS Open Space, explained its significance: “What we’re doing is important due to the economic and the post-pandemic climate; we’ve got services with huge patient backlogs. Commissioners and clinicians need space and they need to be able to see patients as quickly as possible. By booking through NHS Open Space they know that when they come in, those rooms and spaces will have everything they need. They can just focus on their patients.”
NHS Open Space decided to add GoCardless to its payment options when its efforts to scale up were restricted by having a single payment method, said Christopher.
Rod Bull, Project Manager for NHS Open Space, explained more: “It can be a significant change for some organisations to introduce a card payment method, and to put the appropriate approval and reconciliation processes in place, as well as ensuring that there is always credit available on their cards. They are more comfortable with using direct bank payments for one-off and regular payments, enabled by GoCardless. In addition, from our perspective, it can become an administrative burden chasing failed card payments and dealing with other card issues.”
“Around 40% of revenue is now collected via direct bank payments. We've processed around 17,000 direct bank payments in two years and not had a single payment failure, which is absolutely fantastic. That compares with card payments, where we get a lot of failures due to insufficient funds and other reasons.”
Personal touch - the difference maker
Throughout its direct bank payments journey, from implementation to everyday operations, NHS Open Space has been closely supported by GoCardless.
“We had a great implementation experience with GoCardless,” said Rod. “On the technical side, they provided a clear set of APIs. Most importantly, we were assigned an implementation manager who spent time understanding our requirements and timescales. They helped design and deliver a solution that fits our business model really well including key features such as automatic refunds when customers cancel bookings, which allows us to operate a lean team behind the scenes.”
“Now that we’re up and running, our GoCardless Customer Success Manager helps us understand how to manage our growth and keeps us in the loop on innovations that might benefit our customers.”
Plugged into the future of payments
This blending of personalised support in the present delivered by a partner that is plugged into the future of payments, leaves the team with confidence that their needs are well and truly covered.
“We're particularly excited for the launch next year of Variable Recurring Payments using open banking,” said Rod. “That will significantly reduce the payment cycle for us, and also enable us to support our customers in getting refunds on cancelled bookings even faster than they currently can.”
This ultimately gives the team peace of mind that they can keep thinking bigger on behalf of the NHS and its patients.
“What we're trying to do is new, especially within the NHS, and we want it to grow a lot,” said Chris. “For us to be able to do that, we need to have trusted partners on board. I need to be safe in the knowledge that our third parties are going to be delivering every month for us. And that's exactly what GoCardless does.”