Laing O’Rourke has delivered sections of a hospital almost a year earlier than originally planned, though the extra beds it has made available are not yet needed by the NHS.
The contractor had been working to deliver the Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran, South Wales, by the spring of next year, but agreed to work to open sections as soon as possible when the coronavirus crisis hit.
Following the completion of a four-week programme, the contractor, working with project manager Gleeds, delivered sections of the hospital, enabling an extra 384 beds to become available for patients.
The project team had reprioritised site activities and drew up a new commissioning strategy designed to allow for zonal access and reallocation of resources.
Extended working hours with split shifts were introduced with the project team continuing to work on weekends, as well as over the Easter period, to deliver on their commitment.
Aneurin Bevan University Health Board chief executive Judith Paget said: “At the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak we needed to plan for the worst-case scenario. I would like to thank Laing O’Rourke and Gleeds for the great amount of effort and skill they have shown to get these areas of the hospital ready for us to use.
“Thankfully, the general public have observed the advice on staying at home and social distancing, so we don’t need to open the extra beds just yet.”
Gleeds project director Victoria Head said in a statement on Monday: “With the best will in the world, fundamentally, had this been a traditional build with the same start date, we would not have been in a position to offer support to this national pandemic and the NHS.
“We’ve always been proud of the modern methods of construction involved at the Grange University Hospital and the programme savings that it offered compared to a traditional build, but never have the benefits been more apparent than during this crisis.”
Demand for the extra healthcare capacity provided by the fast-tracked Nightingale hospitals has been lower than initially expected, according to several national media reports.