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CONSTRUCTION


The work we did more than doubled the size of the original building – from 3,300 m2


to 8,200 m2 of external plant space.


We had 2,500 cubic metres of earth to shift, an 80 m retaining wall to establish – which required the diversion of three HV cables, a 90 mm diameter water main, installation of a new 2,500 kVA diverse HV ring main and a 200 mm diameter gas main, and all the drainage to create. We used 16 tonnes of unistruts, 8,000 m2


of


plasterboard, 14 km of copper piping, and 3,000 m3


of concrete, plus two oxygen


tanks with a combined capacity of 57,400 litres, and also installed a few counter- terrorism measures. Almost a quarter of a million metres of cabling was installed, along with the provision of 1.5 MW of cooling. On site now is BAM Facilities Management, delivering soft services, having created a ‘soft landing’ for the clinical teams.


‘Unprecedented’ buy-in


So the question many want answered is that if we can create a new hospital in 57 days, why can’t we do it all the time? Schemes like these are not the norm. The kind of buy-in we had was unprecedented. I mentioned VE Day and the spirit that we channelled here. Philippa Slinger, lead CEO at Devon STP (Sustainability and Transformation Plan), said when the building opened that the team had ‘shifted mountains’.


There are no superlatives for what the extended team here has achieved. It’s as if a giant wave picked us all up and carried us throughout. I’ve seen bricklayers helping out with cabling, and all sorts of supportive actions outside of the norm that are far from common on a construction site. We cannot praise our fantastic supply chain enough for their unwavering support and dogged determination in helping us all achieve this momentous achievement. People simply prioritised this scheme over everything else. Will people work ‘24/7’ all year round with the same exhausting approach for an office or a more routine building?


, including 2,000 m3


Some of the BAM managers at one minute past midnight after pushing in the first bed – from left: George Pitman, apprentice Site manager; Dan Julyan, Site manager; Andy Read, senior Site manager, Matt Little, Building Services manager.


Balance of risk


Contracts had to reflect the balance of risk should design and construction not co-ordinate. The best-value and most sustainable solutions could give way to the most expedient ones. Working at such speed certainly requires fast decisions from everybody. The Nightingales are not ‘a new normal’, but they do signal that we should look again at how we work together if a new wave of hospitals is to be built better and built faster. One lesson they teach us is about bringing forward the contractor involvement to the earliest possible moment. Conventional procurement methods may need to be re-examined if they cannot integrate the parties quickly. Earlier involvement allows design and construction to drive out risk and co- ordinate on packages like M&E design and installation, and especially looking into offsite solutions that save time and take operatives away from what is already a very busy workspace.


Even now, if you showed me the design for NHS Nightingale Exeter, I’d think of a 60-week programme to create it. That’s a measure of how pleased I am and how very proud I am that I have had a part to play in creating this incredible healthcare facility.


Nightingale Exeter – Facts and figures


Personnel n Contractor: BAM Construction. n Architect: Stride Treglown. n Project Management: Peninsula Project Consulting. n M&E: SDS, supported by TClarke & Totus. n Structures: Arup.


Statistics


n 600 linear metres of sheet piling. n 4000 linear metres of metal studwork. n 200+ km of cabling. n 3.5 km of ducts. n 30,000 bottles of water consumed by the on-site team. n 1 lorry load of ‘treats’ delivered from Royal Mail. n Value circa £15.5 million construction cost.


36 Health Estate Journal September 2020


Andy Witnall hej


Andy Witnall is a qualified civil engineer with 30 years’ experience in the construction industry. His early career saw him create the rapid retail buildings common to Tesco and Asda for example, ‘at what we thought then was manic speed’. More recently he has created a wealth of education and healthcare buildings, including several schemes for the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, and one of BAM’s largest healthcare schemes in South Wales, the circa £130 million Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr (or YYF) in Caerphilly, managed by Aneurin Bevan University Health Board. His non-healthcare work includes the likes of Marine Academy in Plymouth and One Research Way, voted Michelmore’s Commercial project of the Year, 2017. A resident of South West England, he says that Nightingale Exeter ‘is the scheme I’ve spent 30 years waiting to build’.


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