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

James Paget hospital: Signed, sealed and delivered

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James Paget hospital, Gorleston, serves a population of around 230,000 people in the Norfolk area. Growing demand on the hospital's facilities called for the James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to review the hospital's operating theatres.


This, in turn, led to the construction of a new day patient surgery complex, which will serve the hospital’s day patients and includes a total of three operating suites. Trolley bays, ward areas, waiting and recovery areas, a reception area and theatre staff changing areas have also been included at the operating facility. The project is split into three phases, all of which are being delivered by construction and infrastructure company Morgan Sindall.

The project called for specialist expertise from an experienced project team, with impeccable technical detail required, due in large part to the project’s location in an operational hospital. The project team immersed themselves in the safety aspects of the scheme and took a number of precautions to ensure the project was delivered safely.

The 101 week project comprised the delivery of a vertical extension onto areas of the hospital to facilitate the upgraded machinery that will service the theatres. This was delivered using a tower crane and a specialist scaffold decking system was built above the hospital substation to protect it throughout the works. The vertical extension took the building from two to four storeys, with the team working above live operating space and performing a partial demolition of the first floor of the building.

Erecting the project’s steel frame onto upright beams was a particularly complex element of the build, with much of the assembly completed by hand once the crane had lifted the steel into place.

Tom Wilson, Morgan Sindall Project Manager, said: “The project really called upon the technical expertise we have honed on other projects and there were other important elements to factor into the build, all of which harked back to the fact we were operating in a live hospital environment.

“Beyond technical considerations there were a number of logistics to factor in. We held weekly meetings with the James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and key members of staff in order to alleviate logistical issues and minimise the impact of the works. Through these meetings we agreed work periods and the segregation of the construction works ensured the hospital was able to operate as normal.”

Infection control was fundamental to the project with live acute care environments underneath and encircling the works area. This included dampening down and a high level of dust control. This was achieved through using water to eliminate the dust, however this could cause potential issues for the lower levels of the build, which needed to be water tight to prevent flooding the ground floor of the structure.

The windows of the care units adjacent to the works were all sealed shut and a specialist air conditioning unit was installed meaning no dust or debris from the project could affect the surrounding area.

During the site set-up a large amount of earth was moved and a road installed to enable easy deliveries. In order to stop the spread of dust and associated bacteria, the team covered and sealed the earth mounds, and damped down the road by regularly spraying it with water.

Tom added: “Due to the nature of the environment we had to take some important precautions. Huge fuel silos that power the hospital are housed next to the site and we had to carefully choreograph the deliveries around hydrogen tanks to access the site. The steel was given a police escort onto site to ensure its safe delivery, which highlights the complexity of the logistics of the project.”

Internally, although the building had been demolished it still linked through to active parts of the hospital. A buffer zone was created and sealed infection systems ensured business and operations remained as normal.

Once the external works of the structure and facade were completed it gave a false sense of finality, however, inside the building, there was still much work to be done. This included the newly constructed plant room filled with mechanical and electrical services. The existing room serviced the five current theatres, however, it had to be redesigned to service the new theatres. The duct work was removed and re-installed to link to the new plant room.

During phase two of the project, the team will construct additional air handling facilities to improve the provision to five of the hospital’s existing theatres, with freed up space re-allocated and re-organised to make way for the final phase which will focus on modernising the existing patient recovery area and staff changing facilities.

In addition to the technical complexities of the project, the team truly immersed themselves in the hospital community by taking part in a number of activities to engage with patients and hospital staff, such as celebrating Easter at the children’s ward by collecting and handing out chocolate eggs to the young patients. The team also created a colourful view for youngsters in the hospital by decorating the hoardings visible from the ward with wooden animals designed by the children.

David Adams, Head of Estate & Planning at James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Working with Morgan Sindall over the past 18 months has been a rewarding experience. Together we have delivered one of the most complex and challenging construction projects ever undertaken at the Trust. The construction work has been completed to a fantastic standard in an extremely sensitive location close to occupied hospital wards and departments. This created many additional challenges which required sophisticated planning, good communication and a collaborative approach to managing risks.

“The team at Morgan Sindall also went the extra mile; undertaking volunteering work to refurbish one of our patient rehabilitation areas. They also worked with the children’s ward to ensure the views from their hospital beds, onto the site, are adorned with their own painted wooden animals. It’s the little things like this, on top of the project execution, that make a real positive difference.”

Overall, the main consideration of the project was delivering a multifaceted scheme in a sensitive, live environment which meant calling upon the expertise of the health team at Morgan Sindall. The first phase has been delivered successfully with two further phases to follow over the coming year.

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