56 bed ward building fits snugly into Leicester Royal Infirmary


Wernick Buildings are not unaccustomed to installing healthcare buildings in a tight spot

Wernick Buildings are not unaccustomed to installing healthcare buildings in a tight spot, but recently they were presented a challenge by Leicester Royal Infirmary that required, at least in terms of modular buildings, nothing short of surgical precision.

The hospital required two wards to accommodate inpatients as part of the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust’s five year estate strategy. With nearly all usable space taken up, the choice of where to put the wards was very limited. The hospital was also determined that construction should not disrupt the running of the hospital.

The site that was ultimately chosen came with several major obstacles. Not only bordered by the Windsor, Sandringham, Osbourne and Robert Kilpatrick buildings, the building would also be situated under, and be linked to, a bridge between the Windsor and Sandringham buildings. Effectively boxed in on all sides, how did Wernick respond to the hospital’s proposal? “From the outset of the project,” said Project Manager Louise Naylor “Wernick had a can-do attitude in terms of delivering against a challenging programme and budget.”

The building was initially designed and then modularised by Wernick Buildings’ Technicians. The building consists of 80 units which make up the mainly 2 storey block, which rises up to three stories to link into the existing skywalk.

To keep the hospital running during the installation was quite a logistical feat. Designated lorry routes were implemented, with deliveries of the modules kept on a strict schedule. The biggest obstacle to the installation and movement around the site was the bridge and its supports. “If we touched it at all, even grazed it,” commented Contracts Manager Ian Mellor, “the whole site would have needed to shut down.”

Thankfully, this was not necessary thanks to a well thought through process to position the units. Ground floor units were craned onto the foundations then pushed into position using forklifts. To install the second floor units, a temporary system of skids was employed, allowing the units to be slid along the top of the ground floor units. The link to the bridge was then craned in as normal. This strategy meant there was an absolute minimum amount of disruption to movement around the hospital, even the skywalk was only closed for minutes at a time when units were being craned over it. The 80 modules were delivered onto site over a 2 week period, followed by an intensive fit out programme.

The two 28 bed wards responded to spatial standards identified in HBN 04 and were completed from start to finish of the scheme in 12 months. Each ward consists of 5 bays containing 4 beds, and 8 side rooms.  All bays have en-suite WC and WC/shower; all side rooms have en-suite WC/shower. Shortly after completion, patients were enjoying the benefits of the new ward. “Patients especially like the en-suite facilities and increased availability of side rooms,” Louise told us. “The new facilities have really enhanced the privacy and dignity elements of care that the hospital can offer.”

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