Over a decade of hard work, and challenges including difficulties obtaining building materials during the pandemic, complex planning issues, and getting the building comprehensively equipped, were all successfully overcome in the construction and fitting out of Eastwood Park’s impressive new 3,000 m2 Training Centre in Falfield, Gloucestershire, which was officially opened by HRH The Princess Royal on 4 April.
The opening was attended by around 50 staff and over 80 guests, including supplier and customer representatives, the design and construction supply chain for the multi-million pound facility, and Eastwood Park’s senior management team and Board. Other attendees included Simon Corben, director and Head of Profession for NHS Estates and Facilities at NHS England, and IHEEM’s CEO and COO, Pete Sellars and Tania Davies. On arriving, the Princess Royal enjoyed a 60-minute tour of the building and its impressive practical and classroom training facilities, before unveiling a plaque to mark the opening.
Addressing those assembled, she praised the dedication of the estates and facilities and healthcare engineering workforce who keep healthcare facilities running seamlessly, and emphasised the importance of facilities like the new Training Centre in passing on the vital knowledge, skills, and expertise they need.
Eastwood Park CEO, John Thatcher, said it was ‘a very proud day’ to see the Centre officially opened, plans for it having been first mooted well over a decade ago. He said: “Factors including funding, planning and conservation issues, the pandemic’s impact on construction, and getting the centre equipped with the high-quality equipment we need to deliver our courses, have seen it take considerably longer than first anticipated to get it built and fitted out. I would like to thank APG Architects, the main contractor, CTS, HSBC bank, and the many others who have contributed to bringing the facility from the early planning stage to where we are today – a stunning new training building.”
In addition to 10 classrooms and offices across two floors, facilities include a fully equipped decontamination suite – with its large porous load sterilisers served by a specially-developed Spirax Sarco steam battery system, HV and LV electrical equipment plant rooms, a ‘live’ medical gas training area, a ventilation lab, a fully HBN and HTM-compliant UCV operating theatre, a two-bedded simulated HDU, a biomedical equipment training suite, a hospital corridor with AVSUs etc, and a lift training facility incorporating three working lifts and a number of lift models.
John Thatcher added: “The generosity of our suppliers in helping us equip the new facility to an exceptionally high standard means we now have what we believe is the UK’s leading technical training centre for healthcare engineers. It has taken a long time to get to this point, but the journey has been well worthwhile.”