Construction of Berwick’s new £35 million hospital has begun, after the appointment of Merit as lead construction partner by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
A large part of the construction is taking place offsite at Merit’s factory in Cramlington. The Northumberland-based construction company specialises in the use of offsite manufacturing to – as it puts it ‘allow health facilities to be built with quality, speed, and sustainability in mind’.
Responsible for a large proportion of the hospital’s services infrastructure and fit-out, Merit will manufacture 650 pre-assembled modules (PAMs) weighing around 195 tonnes in total, and 17 UltraPODs weighing around 300 tonnes. The PODs will house all mechanical, electrical and plumbing services – including power, lighting, heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and fire alarm systems. The PAMs, which will sit underneath the PODs in the ceiling framework, will act as the distribution network for the services into the hospital building.
Merit’s CEO, Tony Wells, said: “We have been working closely with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and Northumbria Healthcare Facilities Management (NHFM) to develop a design that is zero carbon emissions, has built in infection control, and is technically enabled for the future of healthcare. This is 21st century construction in action. It is always exciting to reach important milestones in a project of this size and scale, and this is certainly one of them.”
Mark Brough, Merit Health’s Project manager, added: “A very special part of the project will be when the PAMs and PODs are transported to site. It is quite a spectacle to see. I feel privileged to work on something which is so important for the local communities of Berwick.”
Merit says the existing Berwick Infirmary, which was built in 1874, ‘is no longer suitable for the efficient delivery of modern-day healthcare’. The new purpose-built hospital will re-provide all the existing services to deliver care closer to people’s homes, and house GP practice, Well Close Medical Group. Once the main build is complete, demolition of the remaining old hospital buildings, except the clock tower, will be carried out. The car park and access roads will be built, and landscaping work completed. The new hospital should be complete by the end of 2024.