Aug 24, 2019 Last Updated 10:52 AM, Aug 14, 2019

Pushing the boundaries of offsite construction

Published in Healthcare
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Towards the end of 2018, The McAvoy Group was awarded its largest healthcare project to date – a £15m contract for the offsite construction of a new wing at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington. Here, Raymond Millar, McAvoy Construction Director looks at the project which is now nearing completion.

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The structure for the 6500m² three-storey building was manufactured offsite by McAvoy using the latest modular technology to minimise disruption to patient care and to reduce the build programme by half to less than 12 months.

From briefing meeting to building envelope in just 10 months

The building was craned into position as 294 steel-framed modules in a highly complex operation and just 10 months after the initial meeting with the Trust. The speed of construction will help Northumbria Healthcare Trust to meet the rising demand for acute patient services in the region and maintain its position as a leader in the development of urgent and emergency care.

The new wing is linked to the existing hospital on three levels. The first floor is being fitted out by McAvoy as part of this contract to accommodate one of the UK’s first purpose-designed Ambulatory Care units, with the other two floors fitted out in the next phase of the development.

A relaxed environment

The dedicated, 2000m² facility for ambulatory care will provide medical, surgical and gynaecology care in a relaxed and comfortable environment. It will also accommodate a fracture clinic. This will allow up to 150 patients to be treated the same day across four specialisms, without the need for hospital admissions. This will help to de-congest the emergency department, allowing patients to be seen by the most appropriate clinician earlier and offering an enhanced service for the local community.

Commenting on the use of offsite construction, Robert Sanderson, Deputy Director of Capital Projects at Northumbria Healthcare FML, said: “This is a highly complex and ambitious scheme which is being delivered to a very tight timescale and to the Trust’s stringent quality standards. It has taken a real team effort to get to this stage in such a short time.

“I am pleased to report that the project is on track despite some unprecedented weather during the installation phase, and the Trust and The McAvoy Group are working well together. We are looking forward to the completion of the new facilities for ambulatory care which will bring enormous benefits for providing alternative pathways for patients needing urgent care.”

Dr Eliot Sykes, Clinical Director for Surgery and Elective Care at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The new ambulatory care unit is fantastic news for the Trust and will make an immediate and very real difference to our patients. Once open, it will significantly enhance our ability to manage peaks in demand whilst still providing dedicated ambulatory care. We are very much looking forward to the project being finished and are grateful that it will be finished so quickly.”

The latest offsite technology

McAvoy has pushed the boundaries of offsite construction with this project. It is a highly complex scheme on a live hospital site. The design of the existing hospital has been integrated into the extension and offsite construction is delivering the building to a very short programme. A hybrid solution was developed by McAvoy which incorporates both offsite and in-situ building methods. This has maximised fit-out in the factory to enhance quality and reduce disruption to staff and patients.

Designed by healthcare specialist P+HS Architects working with McAvoy as principal contractor, the new wing is replicating the appearance of the existing hospital which opened in 2015. It will have a faceted external facade to create curved ends to the wing and will be finished in blue and white render. This hybrid construction solution has a three-storey offsite structure with an in-situ built curved link on each floor, a roof-top plant room and full-height stair towers.

Innovations in offsite construction

The project features a number of innovations in offsite construction. It has used larger, bespoke modules up to 14.85m long which were specially engineered to provide a structural flooring solution that seamlessly integrates with the existing hospital building. This meets the key requirement for efficient patient flows, removing the need for ramps and steps.

Mechanical ventilation, heating and cooling systems were installed in the ceiling voids in the McAvoy factory. This is believed to be an industry first in the healthcare sector.

Enhancing services for the local community

Facilities will include waiting areas; interview, assessment, and treatment rooms; plaster room with mobile x-ray; trolley bays; patient lounges; ultrasound; single ensuite rooms; nurse’s station; staff rest room; clinical stores; utility rooms, and an open-plan office.

The scheme was awarded through the NHS Shared Business Services framework which facilitated reductions in procurement time and cost. The new wing is designed to comply with all relevant HTM and HBN requirements.

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