NHS welcome centres

How a building looks – both inside and out – has a profound effect on what people think about the organisation it houses and how they relate to it. 


It is often said that, following successful treatment, hospital patients remember the negative incidental things about their experience long after they’ve been discharged: poor parking, inadequate signage, multiple and confusing entrances and receptions, poor cleanliness and low grade retail outlets. 

A carefully located and effectively planned hospital ’Welcome Centre’ at a hospital’s first point of entry provides the visitor with comforting orientation, more space, and a range of quality retail and information services. 

As well as innovative design and project management, Capita local public services provides a wide range of unique funding options and bespoke financial models to ensure that all NHS Trusts are able to successfully deliver new commercial opportunities, resulting in a welcome boost for frontline services. 

Our Welcome Centre financial model is funded through the income derived from the retail operations with upfront financial analysis identifying the potential yields and returns from every financing option that is appropriate for the Trust. This analysis also assists in negotiations with retailers, financiers and developer alike.

Bristol Royal Infirmary 

Designed by Capita on behalf of the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust, the new £4.95m ‘Welcome Centre’ at the Bristol Royal Infirmary is one of the most innovative of its kind in the UK. It comprises the redevelopment of the Infirmary’s reception and waiting area to provide approximately 530 sq m of modern space for retailers including a coffee shop, newsagents, food outlet, clothing / gift shop and an innovative pharmacy service. 

Due to be completed by the end of 2013, it will also provide an improved, glass-fronted entry point to the hospital for patients and visitors with improved way-finding and information resources. 

The second level’s internal layout will be adapted for the large open plan spaces that the building requires including core hospital facilities, retail and ancillary functions and services. The extension of the second level floor plate will provide an open spatial continuum interconnected to the main circulation route to provide further accommodation for retail outlets. 

Welcoming, spacious and easy to maintain, the Welcome Centre design will radically improve the ability to manage the main entrance efficiently and positively improve the patient, staff and visitor experience to the Bristol Royal Infirmary site. 

The elevations of the building will be made from a palette of materials that will create a building that is a positive addition to the built environment. The appearance of the proposed new building is to be expressed through a combination of colour, scale, and materiality. Further to this, the appearance of the building is enhanced by carefully considered and located signage. In this sense the design has been conceived of as having a clear identity, and an architectural language that will suit the location and purpose of the building in an appropriate way.

Capita is currently developing a number of similar schemes across the NHS: 

  • University Hospitals Leicester Trust 
  • Lewisham Teaching Trust 
  • Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 
  • Oxford Radcliffe 
  • Barts Healthcare NHS Trust 
"The scheme provides a new main entrance at level two on Upper Maudlin Street which will be easily identifiable instead of people searching for it as they do now. The intention is to increase the footprint of level two building out to the pavement to enhance trust services, provide a new reception and information centre and a range of retail outlets, leading through to the new lift core for the new building. We are looking to enhance patient and visitor experiences and make it easier to find your way around. We are trying to establish something much more welcoming, more light and airy." 

Andy Headdon, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust