NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter was conceived in April 2020 in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Under the most testing circumstances, the entire project team worked tirelessly to transform a redundant retail unit into a 116-bed hospital in just 57 days.
A complex brief
In terms of scope, scale and complexity, NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter differed completely to the other pandemic field hospitals being delivered at the time.
The ambition was to deliver something more than a temporary facility. Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust required a fully functional, permanent clinical facility.
Added to this, large sites with good existing infrastructure (e.g. conference venues) were not available across the South West, which is why a redundant retail shed was selected as the preferred option.
Our unique solution
The speed of construction, site restrictions and availability of materials required innovative procurement of modular assemblies and components manufactured off-site. All new infrastructure had to be brought to the site and the shed was more than doubled in footprint through 60 MMC volumetric units.
As the last of the eight Nightingale Hospitals to be built in the UK, we were able to apply lessons learned from the emerging COVID-19 response. Recognising that clinical teams preferred to manage the most serious cases in hospital, we developed a concept of different acuity wards.
Our model consists of five wards each with 24 beds. The segregated wards enable the hospital to care for the greatest range of patients – from the sickest through to those recovering or with less severe problems.
This layout required separated ‘red’ and ‘green’ corridors, to facilitate access to all wards and clean/dirty support spaces within a biosecure arrangement. Ceilings were installed to ensure ventilation regimes could be maintained at 10 air changes per hour.
Diagnostic imaging, to allow for cancer screening, was also included in the scheme to provide greater flexibility.
To complete the project in only 57 days, the design, construction and client teams had to work collaboratively on site, almost 24/7, to get rapid responses to queries and resolve issues as they emerged.
Unusually, the design team worked just 24 hours ahead of construction – and sometimes less, with certain elements of work designed only hours before being installed.
Construction involved over 2,500 operatives working double shifts, 20 hours a day.
This project brought together many different organisations and agencies who all collaborated with each other to create a truly incredible hospital in a very short time. This is a significant achievement and I am deeply appreciative of the support provided.
Philippa Slinger – Chief Executive, Nightingale Hospital Exeter
Flexibility in use
NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter was immediately put into operation in June 2020, initially taking non-COVID patients to relieve the pressure on regional hospitals, and received its first COVID-19 patients in November 2020.
Our innovative ward design meant that this facility was one of only two in the country to continually receive COVID-19 patients.
Since a reduction in cases, the hospital is now being used for cancer screening. The team are currently adding two operating theatres which will transform the facility into a full planned care centre. This additional capacity will help the NHS to clear the backlog of clinical demand created by the pandemic.
Recognition for the team
With NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter, the project team managed to deliver the impossible. Their incredible efforts have been recognised by Constructing Excellence South West, who recently named the hospital their Building Project of the Year, and by ICE South West who awarded the project Collaboration of the Year. Hopefully, there are more awards on the horizon for this exceptional project:
- Healthcare Estates IHEEM – Refurbishment Project of the Year (shortlisted)
- Building Better Healthcare – Best COVID-19 Building Design Project (shortlisted)
If you’d like to find out more about NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter, please get in touch with our Healthcare team. Or arrange to meet Dan Van Luttmer, Simon Boundy or Linda Jordan at Healthcare Estates Conference 18-22 October.