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Blog: Supporting the NHS in its hour of need

Hosting one of the busiest emergency services in the county, Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH) Foundation Trust is also one of only five teaching hospitals in the Yorkshire region, working closely with the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University.

It serves a population of more than 420,000 across South Yorkshire, North Nottinghamshire and the surrounding areas. As such, it holds an integral position in the lives of people of all ages across these regions, both in terms of supporting wellbeing in the community and training the healthcare professionals of tomorrow.

In March 2020, Morgan Sindall Construction’s Yorkshire and North East team began work delivering essential improvement works to key facilities within the Trust’s Doncaster Royal Infirmary (DRI), a large acute hospital with over 800 beds, a 24-hour emergency department and trauma unit status.

However, just over a week after work had begun, it had to be halted as result of the UK’s first COVID-19 lockdown.

“It became apparent that we’d have to pause our improvement works in order to minimise disruption within the hospital at what would be a critical time,” says Nick Franklin, Morgan Sindall Construction’s operations manager for the work at the Trust.

“We completed what we’d started in public areas like stairways and lift lobbies, and then undertook what work we could in areas that weren’t being used, such as the hospital library and certain administrative areas.”

Upon completion of these elements of the work, the Morgan Sindall Construction team was then asked by the Trust if they could assist with the rapid creation of specialist COVID-19 wards in order to meet the expected influx of critically ill patients.

“As everyone knows, the period around spring last year was a very scary time and hospital trusts everywhere had to meticulously plan how they could adapt their estate in order to best serve communities at a time of unprecedented crisis,” explains Nick. “Those adaptations then had to be delivered at pace while ensuring the safety of staff, patients and construction professionals and the wider supply chain in complex circumstances.”
Image of the signage at Doncaster Hospital
Pictured: Montagu Hospital

After undertaking the required safety assessments, Nick and his team began the next stage of their work at DRI. This involved adapting six bed bays into six separate zones so each bed could be socially distanced and walled off from each other. Similarly, corridors were split up to ensure a safe one way system of travel could be adhered to.

Due to the increased need for everyone in the hospital to wash their hands on an even more regular basis than normal, over 30 sinks were also installed throughout the hospital.

The need to complete this expediently was paramount but presented some logistical challenges. However, due to the nature of the work Morgan Sindall Construction’s supply chain were happy to assist, as Nick describes:

“Normally, we’d put in orders to our supply chain and manufacturers way in advance of when the products are needed. In this instance through that just wasn’t an option. However, everyone we got in touch with – whether that was a glass supplier or a tap manufacturer – was happy to bend over backwards in order to help the Trust out at time of great need. It was wonderful to see and made you really proud of our industry.”
Image of Doncaster Hospital
Pictured: Doncaster Royal Infirmary

Following the completion of the COVID-19 works, Morgan Sindall Construction returned to in its initial brief when it was safe to do in late summer, with work eventually completed by Christmas. Reflecting the strength of the relationship built during a turbulent time, the team was then asked to complete a series of minor capital works schemes worth £5 million across the Trust’s three sites.

This latest iteration of work, procured through Pagabo, included a variety of elements. At DRI, hundreds of metres of medical gas pipework was installed, increasing the capacity of oxygen from newly installed storage tanks. Other work included the fitting of new vacuum plants and controls for the main boiler house, as well as the installation of emergency lighting, plate heat exchange works and road resurfacing.

At Bassetlaw Hospital in Worksop, the team re-roofed a section of the building, along with plant/heating works. Montagu Hospital in Mexborough also saw the installation of emergency lighting as well a new vacuum plant, replacement of a back-up generator and new plate heat exchangers being added to the existing boiler house.

Nick explains the complexities of the above work being delivered in a relatively short period of time: “Upon receiving the brief, we had to design the scope of works and commit to it being delivered by the end of March of 2021. This was not an easy task, given the wide nature of the works and the tight timeframe – but it’s something we’re set to achieve[TC1] due to the diligence and commitment of our team and the great working relationship we’ve developed with the Trust during the exceptional circumstances of the past year.”

As the country looks to enter the final phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nick and his team are proud they were able to support the hospital during such a critical time.

The NHS has demonstrated why it’s so crucial to the fabric of our country over the past year, and the work currently being delivered with the vaccine roll out is enormously impressive,” says Nick. “Hopefully, as a result, we’ll soon be returning to something like normality. While we were initially brought on board just to undertake improvement works, it was a real privilege for our team at Morgan Sindall Construction to be there for the Trust during a time of great difficulty. Additionally, the further works that we have subsequently completed will result in an improved hospital experience for people across Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and beyond for many years to come.”
Image of the Bassetlaw Bridge at Bassetlaw Hospital in Worsop
Pictured: The Bassetlaw Bridge at the Bassetlaw Hospital in Worksop