New multimillion-pound unit set to transform hospital environment for children and families

20th Mar

A construction company that is part of the Hull-based Sewell Group has completed a new £3.4 million Children’s Emergency Department and Assessment Unit at Barnsley Hospital, paving the way for an improved experience for children and families.

Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is investing in a series of improvements across its Gawber Road site in Barnsley, including the new children’s unit which will enable the trust to increase capacity to treat adults in its Accident and Emergency department.

Illingworth & Gregory (I&G) previously completed theatre remodelling work for the trust in 2019 and 2020, and began work on the new unit in February 2020, completing the design and build despite the challenges generated during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Alison Fearns, project manager at Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Completion of the Emergency Department and Children’s Assessment Unit is a key milestone in our wider programme to transform how we deliver children’s services to the families of Barnsley.

“The new unit will create a high-quality welcoming and child-friendly environment, which should massively improve the patient experience.

“We have taken a very collaborative approach to delivering the programme, engaging with clinical and estates staff and patients during design development pre-tender, and with staff during construction on specific design details.

“I&G has exceeded expectations in terms of working in partnership and, between the client commercial team and I&G, we have managed to overcome the challenges of a constrained site, a tight budget and programme, and the impact of the pandemic to deliver a building we are truly proud of.”

All areas of the hospital remained operational throughout the project, disruption was kept to a minimum, designs were revisited and adapted in line with Covid-19 regulations where necessary, and communication was a significant priority.

The I&G team laid the foundations and built the structural steel framework of the new unit before breaking through into the hospital’s A&E department to connect the new children’s unit to the existing building.

Sean Henderson, managing director of I&G, said: “This design and build project demonstrated our flexibility as a team during a challenging time when the NHS was dealing with a national health crisis. Working in close collaboration with the trust to adapt due to the Covid-19 pandemic has enabled us to achieve the best solution for them.

“We worked within Covid-secure construction guidelines with a limited team on site, and we were one of the first contractors back on site after quickly adapting the way we work in response to the pandemic and lockdown restrictions.

“It’s fantastic to know this new building will make such a difference to children and families, and we’re ready to deliver the next phase of the wider project in the same collaborative and positive way.”

An official opening of the new unit will take place in the coming weeks in line with restrictions being eased.

I&G will now move on to remodelling and refurbishing works to allow for expansion of the hospital’s Emergency Department, including an Adult Majors Unit.

Work will begin on March 23 for 10 weeks, creating eight additional cubicles to reduce waiting times and an improved area for adults to sit.

A new canopy covering the ambulance drop-off area will also be created to provide shelter to patients arriving at A&E.

Alison added: “We are looking forward to starting the next phase of the project, which is logistically complex, having forged a positive working relationship with I&G.”

I&G is also currently working on other projects on behalf of the trust on the Barnsley Hospital site, including refurbishment and conversion works to enable the trust’s Surgical Assessment Unit and Acute Medical Assessment Unit to relocate closer together. Refurbishment and remodelling works for a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computerised Tomography (CT) base are also under way.

In addition, the team is working on seven projects for Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, from creating a new emergency department entrance to full ward refurbishments, and two further projects for Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust.

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