One of the UK’s largest acute teaching hospitals, the Royal Stoke University Hospital in Stoke on Trent serves a local populace of half a million people and provides specialist services to three million people across the wider region. It has a reputation for clinical excellence, particularly in the field of emergency medicine.
Fit for the Future
In 2002, the NHS implemented a ‘Fit for the Future’ project to reorganise the then University Hospital of North Staffordshire’s (UHNS) facilities, which were spread across three sites in Stoke on Trent. The NHS Trust wanted to streamline UHNS’s services to create an efficient healthcare centre capable of offering state-of-the-art clinical services.
The decision was made to house all the city’s clinical services in one new-build facility to be constructed within the existing City General Hospital site, now renamed Royal Stoke University Hospital. This new facility would include a new accident and emergency (A&E) department, maternity centre and oncology unit. Refurbishment work would also be carried out to the three existing sites, including the City General Hospital where some buildings were over a century old.
Engineering Royal Stoke University Hospital
Our most complex challenge was to deliver the UHNS’s new facility while working in a live and congested hospital environment. The new unit had to be created in a phased program of construction works with the new facilities completed before the old units could be demolished. Careful planning was required to organize the build schedule and we maintained a very close relationship with the NHS Trust, main contractor and design team to ensure minimal disruption to the hospital’s usual activities.
Meeting demanding energy targets was another key challenge. Our response was to use natural ventilation, as opposed to air conditioning, throughout the new hospital by exploiting the embodied mass of the building’s façade together with energy efficient plant systems.
Our engineers added significant value to the project by using a method of ‘hybrid’ (partial) off-site construction that reduced the need for site labour and saved time within the build schedule. This project represents one of the first times this technique has been used in hospital design and construction.
Design Input from Staff
A key part of our approach to the new build facility was to involve the UHNS’s clinical teams during the design consultation phase. Through the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM), we were able to demonstrate how the hospital environment would work, creating clinical adjacencies and allowing for vertical and horizontal movement between different clinical zones.
The direct input from hospital staff resulted in the creation of a central ‘hub’ within the new facility that co-located key diagnostic and treatment facilities. This design strategy led to economies of scale in the number of specialist facilities required and has helped to create a healthcare facility that is easily navigable, minimising patient transfer times.
In addition to being a value engineered and energy efficient building that is able to support advanced clinical strategies, the Royal Stoke University Hospital’s new facility has met the client’s brief of being ‘Fit for the Future’. The buildings will be able to accommodate future expansion and allow for internal conversion for different use in the future in acknowledgement of ever-evolving patient treatments.