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CONSTRUCTION


Re-thinking how we design and build new hospitals


Patrick Morrison, Pre-contract manager for healthcare at NG Bailey, explores why modern methods of construction are, as he puts it, ‘key to the future success of construction in healthcare’.


The UK Government has committed to finance the largest hospital building programme in a generation, giving the green light to more than 40 new hospital projects across the country. Six projects have already been given the go-ahead, and a further 30 could be built during the next decade. This is an ambitious programme, and in order to achieve it within the next decade, NG Bailey and our colleagues across the sector need to re- think our approach to how we design and build new hospitals. This is where modern methods of construction (MMC) come in.


Why now?


Modern methods of construction have been used by the construction sector for many years. At NG Bailey we have been pioneering the use of MMC across many of our projects, including in the healthcare sector, since 2000, so why are we now talking about it being the future of the sector? Well, the Nightingale Hospitals which were developed as part of the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic are just one example of where MMC come into their own. In an unprecedented set of circumstances, where time was of the essence, NG Bailey and partners across the sector were able to construct five field hospitals across the country in just a matter of weeks. A big part of this delivery was offsite manufacturing, which enabled us to design, manufacture, and install, complex services infrastructure serving over 2,000 new hospital beds in less than four weeks from a standing start – all while maintaining safe social distancing measures.


Creating standardised solutions While the Nightingale hospitals may be an extreme example, it goes to show what is achievable when there is a real, immediate demand in the healthcare sector. The project also highlighted that when it comes to delivering multiple large-scale healthcare facilities, there are a lot of benefits to creating a ‘kit of parts’. This means standardising offsite solutions, for example corridor services frames, so that they can be manufactured offsite and slotted together.


NG Bailey’s offsite manufacturing facility.


Currently, designs are progressed from concept through to the spatial coordination stage based upon traditional installation techniques. This means that key architectural design decisions are sometimes made against outdated engineering principles, which ultimately increases both time needed on site and costs for the client. However, if we work collaboratively with healthcare organisations to agree a standardised ‘kit of parts’ for hospitals, we can ensure that everything produced will not only be compliant, but will also deliver best value for the project because things don’t need to be re-designed every time.


Efficiencies at every stage This is a change to the current method of construction, where a building is designed first, and then assessed for prefabrication later. By designing the building around a catalogue of pre-designed components,


efficiencies are created at every stage. These can be passed on to the customer, who benefits both from consistent quality across the build, and cost savings, and this approach also ensures that the programme stays on track.


The idea of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is something that we’ve been developing for a while at NG Bailey, and it has had positive results. One example is the work we delivered at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary’s new £115 million emergency care centre. For this project we manufactured all the corridor service modules offsite, complete with plasterboard head-partitions. This allowed all the service penetrations from the corridor into the clinical rooms to be made in a factory environment to a much higher standard of quality than could have been achieved on site. The offsite solutions on this project included manufacturing more than 400


February 2021 Health Estate Journal 61


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