Helping hospitals overcome demand

The Modular and Portable Building Association (MPBA) is urging hospitals to consider an alternative to traditional construction to ensure that they can provide the best possible facilities to ease the pressure on health services. Jackie Maginnis explains why

With the ever increasing demand for emergency care units talk to the industry about requirements now. It may be a complete new building or and add on to and existing building. Whatever the need the skills within companies today can ease the burden to design the correct facility and minimise disruption to the existing facilities.

Given the critical nature of the healthcare industry, the necessity to quickly source low cost, modern and fully functional buildings is imperative. With offsite modular construction companies can work on severely restricted sites, more often than not in half the time taken by traditional construction methods.

Today with the very stringent requirements for quality and NHS standards modular design can fulfil that need and equally as important can work within the budget restraints that face estate managers. More importantly deliver a building on time. And their popularity shows no signs of diminishing as increasing numbers of healthcare managers discover their benefits for themselves.

Temporary or permanent modular buildings are proving to be the healthy choice for hospitals looking to quickly overcome problems relating to peak-time demand. They are rapidly becoming a popular solution for hospitals seeking to overcome high patient demand.

The MPBA believes that the cost-effectiveness and speed with which modular buildings can be used to both construct new state-of-the-art hospitals from scratch and extend existing structures make them ideally suited for medical purposes.

Jackie Maginnis, chief executive of the MPBA, explained: “Modular buildings provide a perfect solution for hospitals looking to access long-lasting buildings that truly cater for their needs both quickly and painlessly. It’s been well documented that many hospitals will face increasing pressure on their infrastructure over the next few years.

“At the MPBA, we want the health sector to be aware that modular buildings have the potential to be more cost-effective than conventionally built projects. Jackie added that modular building companies specialise in providing a ‘complete service’ to the health service from undertaking the initial design and carrying out all necessary groundwork to construction and final fit out.

“They can create standalone structures, single-storey ‘cluster’ departments, two-storey schemes or whole-hospital configurations. In addition to being fitted-out for wards, theatres they can be fitted out with kitchen and dining purposes, the expertise also exists to design, create and subsequently install more “specialist” accommodation such as, meeting rooms, laboratories to name a few.”

Jackie Maginnis said that healthcare managers greatly appreciate the possibility of sourcing these cutting-edge facilities both quickly and cost-effectively.

She explained: “It’s my impression that hospitals are now starting to realise that you don’t have to employ one of the really big contractors and undertake a conventional build to get the premises they require. Modular buildings can be manufactured with ultra-quick lead times and supplied as an extension or an ‘add-on’ to meet peaks in demand.

“Sometimes, healthcare managers aren’t aware that these structures are available as a permanent – as well as a temporary option at a cost to suit their needs. There is also a strong refurbished market along with a large hire industry within their reach. Other major benefits of modular buildings include energy compliance, meeting the latest regulations and the ability to create buildings that are designed to meet the precise specifications of that hospital’s requirements.”

Fully functional hospital buildings
Modular units are planned and designed to suit specific user requirements. Buildings are also created offsite in a factory, which enables urgent clinical services to be delivered faster, resulting in minimum disruption in a hospital.

Jackie Maginnis added that a misconception – in some quarters - is that once a modular building has been installed, it can’t subsequently be moved and used elsewhere.

She continued: “The beauty of some temporary buildings is that they can be removed and reused in other parts of that hospital complex – or elsewhere - as the need arises. Modular buildings can be constructed to the latest healthcare standards fully compliant to all building regulations and encompass ‘Part L’ energy efficiency – which means some modular buildings also have lower carbon emissions than the traditional option.

“Members of the MPBA produce the required Energy Performance Certificates, so a customer can be certain of the energy rating for a building.”

The highest possible construction standards - but faster
Maginnis adds that it’s the ‘flexibility’ of a modular approach that gives healthcare managers the greatest benefits. And this is particularly relevant when it comes to urgent and difficult projects. The length of time it takes to install new modular buildings will vary according to a hospital’s specific requirements and the ease of access to the site among many more considerations. But it will always be quicker than ‘conventional’ construction projects.

Maginnis added: “The benefits of a quick installation combined with minimal onsite disruption are not to be overlooked. And they’re also major reasons for the increasing popularity of modular buildings within the healthcare sector.

“But those healthcare managers thinking of going down the modular route should talk to industry directly. This will without doubt save money. The Modular and Portable Building Association has members who have been fully vetted before joining. Our members will consistently provide the highest quality structures and meet the needs of any healthcare project.”

Case Studies

Royal Liverpool Hospital
The new building work at Royal Liverpool Hospital is no small undertaking. Main contractors Carillion are not only creating a new development for Merseyside’s busiest hospital, but are adding a cutting edge Biocampus to the site of the old hospital building. The site is active 24 hours a day, seven days a week with over 1,000 operatives on site at any time.

Royal Stoke University
A highly complex, 4,200sqm two-storey ward and theatre building at Royal Stoke University Hospital has been constructed by Portakabin Hire in less than four months to help meet the increasing demand for orthopedic services.

The £13.5 million contract is the largest in the 52-year history of the Portakabin Group’s Hire Division and the project is one of its most challenging schemes in terms of programme and site constraints. The structure for the high quality patient facility was installed in just 18 days which included weekend working to minimise disruption to the hospital’s service provision as there were fully operational wards immediately adjacent to the new building. This construction solution allowed the project to be built in the shortest possible time to the benefit of patient care.

If a site is working all hours of the day, then the site welfare needs to deliver. To cater for such a busy site, Wernick Hire provided a 39 bay welfare complex, complete with canteen, industrial kitchen, drying rooms, toilets and showers

Princess Royal University Hospital - Kent
Princess Royal University Hospital in Kent recently found themselves with what seemed like an insurmountable problem. Increasing patient numbers were stretching the limits of the hospital’s facilities. A critical decision unit, where patients could be cared for while an assessment is made to decide where in the hospital they should be treated, was needed urgently.

Unfortunately, the speed with which the building was needed was not the only problem. To provide an optimum service, the location of the unit was vital. By far the most effective placement for it was in the existing ambulance bay adjacent to the Accident and Emergency ward.

However, from a construction point of view this area offered several challenges of its own. Hemmed in on three of its four sides, and sitting partly above the entrance to the underground car park, any solution would need to overcome problems of severely limited space and weight distribution.

For more details of the case studies mentioned visit the where these plus other case studies are available. Access to all member companies web sites is also available where much more information can be obtained.

Image caption
A building at Hull Royal Infirmary built off site by Portakabin

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