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News archive - May 2017

A lifeline for cash-strapped hospitals

A lifeline for cash-strapped hospitals

Hospitals up and down the country are facing two conflicting pressures - a need for additional space to improve and expand services, and a reduction in capital to pay for building improvements.

This dilemma has meant the industry has had to think long and hard about traditional build methods and, as a result, offsite construction is becoming increasingly popular as a way of enhancing the built environment

Wernick Buildings has worked with a number of NHS trusts to provide modular offsite space solutions, from new wards to dialysis centres.

Contracts manager, Ben Hitchcock, said: “Modular construction may not be the miracle cure for all the problems facing the NHS at present, but offsite building methods can produce space quickly, and without putting excess pressure on already-stretched hospital budgets.

“Offering a 50% reduction in time and cost compared to traditional build methods; modular wards, offices, and surgeries can provide relief to hospitals in need of more room, with minimal time and cost output.”

Guaranteed results

Among its healthcare clients, the company has worked with Velindre Cancer Centre in South Wales to come up with a novel way of solving the problem of a lack of back-office space, by building a modular office block to locate administration staff in one place. This, in turn, enables the hospital to expand clinical services into the spaces left behind.

The building features external lighting and security systems, vital for staff working out of hours. Internally, there are conference rooms, open-plan office spaces, a disabled access lift, toilet facilities, and an ADT alarm system.

EMS Healthcare is helping to address another, more-specific, problem facing hospitals - increasing pressure on ophthalmology - eye care - services.

The company has recently launched Quest Plus, a modular unit designed to alleviate the demand for macular disease care, particularly wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), an eye condition which causes a loss of central vision.

On a Quest

In response to what health trusts are saying they need, the 40ft unit takes just one hour to set up and has the flexibility to move location on a daily basis. It features a patient reception/waiting area, visual acuity room, consultation and OCT scanning room, and an HTM-compliant cleanroom to enable a one-stop follow up assessment and treatment service.

Suzie Nield, business delivery manager at EMS Healthcare, said: “The drive for more out-of-hospital and community-based care is embedded throughout the NHS Five Year Forward View. As such, it’s a priority of ours to continually expand our fleet of mobile medical solutions to assist with delivering uncompromised patient care outside of the hospital setting.”

Another trust to benefit from this approach is The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), which has developed an award-winning partnership with Vanguard Healthcare Solutions to tackle ongoing capacity issues.

Initially, the collaboration began with the specific goal of keeping activity up during refurbishments of the endoscopy facilities.

A mobile endoscopy suite was situated in the hospital grounds to accommodate patients displaced by building works in the main hospital.

Installed in just 18 days, in the 30 days it was on site, more than 200 patients were seen.

In the same year the trust had built up a backlog of patients waiting for maxillofacial and orthopaedic surgery.

Waiting lists

Facing a bigger-scale challenge than the endoscopy unit, a full mobile visiting hospital was installed in the grounds of the Princess Royal site for 134 working days.

In that time, the trust was able to see 742 patients who had been on the waiting list for over 18 weeks.

Finally, the trust found that increased winter demand had the potential to cause recently-cleared backlogs to sky-rocket once again.

It recognised that flexible infrastructure could, once again, provide the additional capacity necessary and made the decision to move one of its elective orthopaedic wards into a newly-installed mobile clinical ward.

More than 400 patients were treated during the time the unit was on site and elective emergency access increased.

A spokesman at Vanguard said: “When the NHS reconfigures its services, flexible infrastructure will play a more-central role in the delivery of community-focused care.

“By thinking outside the box and embracing a truly-flexible solution, they can manage fluctuations in demand, without compromise.”

More with less

And MTX has recently provided a new endoscopy unit at George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton.

Showing the range of offsite construction techniques, a bespoke single-storey modular building was installed made up of 21 modules and providing endoscopy and bronchoscopy treatment rooms, decontamination and clean areas, and male and female recovery areas.

With 1000sq m of column-less space, the walls in the hygiene areas were constructed with a pre-finished steel product specifically formulated to help maintain a clean.

The unit also includes energy-efficient LED lighting.

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