stepping up subsequently, since at the time he could not give the Presidency his full commitment, as the Trust he was working for – the Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust – was in the process of merging with the Colchester Hospital Trust to form the new East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust. As IHEEM President, he explained to me that his aim would be to help continue forging ahead with all five of the Institute’s ‘Five Key Themes’ developed by Pete Sellars and the Executive Council – serving members, developing future leaders, engaging with new partner organisations, supporting existing such organisations, and strengthening the Institute’s national and international profile.’ However, he is especially keen to focus on three areas.

The Faraday Challenge

The first is IHEEM’s continuing partnership with the Institution of Engineering Technology, and sponsorship of the IET’s Faraday Challenge, with allocated days, from September 2021 to September 2022, to take healthcare engineering through the STEM agenda into schools to encourage 12-13-year-olds into engineering, but more particularly, into healthcare engineering roles (he is a Fellow of the IET, and a Member of the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management).

Secondly, he is keen to look at the planning and design of healthcare premises, and especially at the further development of technical guidance and its standardisation, and at what different countries can learn from one another. He said: “I think the past year has really highlighted the need to share experiences and lessons to enable improvements in the design and planning of new buildings that are both flexible enough to adapt to changing healthcare demands, and sufficiently resilient to cope with a global challenge like COVID-19. IHEEM should be at the forefront of collating, publishing, and disseminating new technical guidance on the planning and design of healthcare premises, working with other Institutes and associations, colleagues at NHSE/NHSI, Company Affiliates, and partners worldwide.”

Thirdly – and this is an area he feels passionate about given his association with HEFMA – which has traditionally focused on the estates and facilities side of the profession – he is keen for the Institute to offer increased support for the area

represented by the ‘EM’ letters in IHEEM – ‘estate management’, especially around the built environment. A long-standing colleague and

profession, with so many NHS hospitals operating at, or near, capacity. Having kept in extremely close touch with my Estates and Facilities colleagues at ESNEFT, but also throughout the profession, the professionalism and commitment of such personnel has really shone through over the past year, arguably to a greater degree than at any other time in my career. We are especially lucky to have a Chief Executive at ESNEFT in Nick Hulme who has always understood the importance of the estates and facilities function, but I think that since we have been battling the pandemic at our two main acute hospitals, medical personnel there have seen how vital a role EFM staff play in ensuring clean, safe, and fit-for-purpose facilities from which to provide care. They have also appreciated our ability to help them adapt spaces to provide additional capacity.

Recognition at last?

Paul Fenton still has his set of Eastern Electricity indentures signed off with a wax seal.

friend of Jonathan Stewart, who took over as HEFMA National Chair from him in May 2017, Paul Fenton is determined that IHEEM and HEFMA should work more closely together, for instance in formulating estates and facilities management technical guidance and policy, an area where he feels they have complementary strengths.

Building on existing work

He added: “I will be looking to build on the excellent work already done by Pete Sellars, and my predecessor as IHEEM President, Ian Hinitt, both of whom I’d like to thank for their efforts to date. I’m extremely honoured to be taking up the IHEEM Presidency, and look forward to working with my Council colleagues in managing the Institute’s business and strategy. I’m clearly taking up the role at an especially challenging time for the

“One undoubted positive to come out of this horrible pandemic,” he added, “is that the value of the work Estates and Facilities professionals do, sometimes without much recognition, is now being recognised. I am lucky that at ESNEFT, the Board, and the Trust’s Management team, have given considerable priority to maintaining our buildings and estate, but many senior estates and facilities personnel still cite the difficulties of ‘getting a seat at the top table’, and getting their Board to recognise that fit-for-purpose, well-maintained, and properly resourced buildings and equipment are essential to good clinical care. That is something I hope may increasingly change.”

The Eastern Electricity Board depot in Ipswich. 14 Health Estate Journal February 2021

Having touched on the present, and some of his hopes and aspirations for IHEEM and the wider profession, I was keen to discover more about Paul Fenton’s career to date, and some of the experiences that have shaped his personal and professional development. He said: “Going back to the start of my career, having done well at English, Maths and Physics at Ipswich’s Chantry Comprehensive School, I left full-time education in 1980, aged 16, for a five-year electrical apprenticeship with Eastern Electricity. The first 10 months, away from home, at the company’s Harold Hill Training Centre in Romford, was a bit daunting. It was an apprentice training school not just for electricians, but for linesmen, jointers, and, fitters, since at the time Eastern Electricity was both the regional electricity supplier and a large contractor.” The idea of an engineering apprenticeship had appealed to him for some

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