Oct 15, 2018 Last Updated 10:41 AM, Oct 15, 2018

Bathroom pods – revolutionising construction efficiency

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In this article, Richard Tonkinson, Executive Director of UK-leading bathroom pod manufacturer Offsite Solutions, looks at how an NHS trust is moving en-suite bathroom construction off site.


There is now unprecedented demand for bathroom pods in the public sector – from social housing to student residences. This shift towards off-site is driven by the shortage of skilled labour, particularly in the South East. There are issues across the building industry with consistent quality and a poor record of on-time and on-budget delivery. The publication of reports such as the Farmer Review and the Government’s Construction 2025 strategy have both highlighted the need to move more work off site.

The healthcare sector is not as advanced in its use of bathroom pods as sectors such as residential and student accommodation. The biggest barrier is not engaging with the pod manufacturer at an early stage in the design process. The use of factory-built bathrooms should be designed into the earliest stages of a construction project. This reduces the likelihood of access issues at the installation and service connection phase and minimises the number of variations in design and layout. Repeat designs for bathroom pods are more efficient and cost-effective.

Advances in pod technology for the healthcare sector

One NHS trust that is making the best use of the latest pod technology is East Lothian Community Hospital – a new £69m, state-of-the-art community hospital, now under construction.

Morrison Construction, part of Galliford Try, is principal contractor for the 22,000m2, purpose-built hospital, appointed by Hub South East Scotland on behalf of NHS Lothian. When completed, the new facility will increase inpatient beds by around 60% to enhance the quality of care for local people.

Offsite Solutions is providing 134 factory-built bathroom pods for the project. These units are being supplied without floors to allow for continuous level flooring throughout the wards and avoiding the need for thresholds to make the bathrooms fully accessible.

Designed to meet HTM requirements, each of the large 2.6 x 2.2m pods will easily accommodate a patient and a carer and have a wider, pre-prepared aperture for two door leaves for easy access. The washbasins, toilets and showers are being pre-installed in Offsite Solutions’ factory in Somerset and the easy-to-clean, hygienic walls will be finished in white with a feature wall from a range of colours.

The scheme has a complex phased construction to allow the continuation of clinical services in the existing hospital buildings on the site. As a result, the bathroom pods will be installed in batches throughout 2018.

Commenting on the specification of bathroom pods, Paul Godwin, Design Manager at Morrison Construction, said: “Having the bathrooms arrive on site as a finished product gives us the benefit of a significant programme saving and this use of off-site construction means we need less labour on site, which is safer and more efficient.”

When operational, the new hospital will provide a range of community-based services including a mental health inpatient unit, elderly medicine, medical assessment inpatient ward, orthopaedic and stroke rehabilitation. Offsite Solutions offers a wide range of bathroom pod solutions for the healthcare sector. This includes easy-to-clean and low-maintenance GRP pods for hospital environments; steel-framed pods for tiled finishes for care homes and supported living schemes; as well as options for floorless units to meet specific project requirements. Anti-ligature fixtures and bathroom fittings can be supplied for enhanced safety for mental health facilities.

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