£2 million cash injection to improve Changing Places facilities provision across the NHS
In a new Government announcement, from 1st of June 2019, NHS Trusts in England can apply for funding to install Changing Places facilities in NHS hospitals to improve toileting access for disabled people in the UK.
The news comes from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) after recognising that there was a lack of Changing Places toilets in NHS hospitals throughout England.
The drive for more facilities also comes from a campaign launched by the Changing Places Consortium in 2006 calling for the Government to change building and planning regulations to ensure that Changing Places facilities are provided in all large public buildings (including hospitals) as they are built, redeveloped or refurbished.
As a result, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is consulting on whether Building Regulations should be updated to make Changing Places facilities mandatory in some large public buildings.
Caroline Dinenage, Minister of State for Care, announced in December 2018 that up to £2 million of capital funding would be made available for NHS Trusts to improve provision of Changing Places in NHS hospitals. The Department says that the average cost of installing Changing Places in hospitals is roughly between £25,000 and £35,000.
According to DHSC, more than 250,000 severely disabled people in the UK are unable to use standard accessible toilets.
Whilst there are presently over 1,200 registered Changing Places toilets in the UK, DHSC estimated that provision on the NHS Estate in England was limited to around 30 and 40 locations (although noting that there could be some unregistered facilities).
The new funding aims to improve provision of Changing Places on the NHS Estate between 2019 and 2021.
DHSC states that Trusts can only apply for funding to create new facilities, not to make improvements to current facilities. However, NHS Trusts that already have Changing Places facilities are able to apply for funding to install further toilets.
The funding must be spent by the end of March 2021.