RACC them up = 2024
The earliest the investment in the new hospital programme – dealing with those trusts with factory made reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) plank failure – is a year away from now 2024.
They are in all sorts of shape ready to go. One example is James Paget, one of two already in the new hospital programme.
“A year away is quick. These schemes are in fairly remote places but often green fields and in some ways easier, says Dave Hollywood who worked on the Midland Metropolitan Hospital development dealing with Balfour Beatty and who is now at contractor Kier working on major health projects.
“Those new schemes coming into the programme we can now show interest and these have to be put through the lens of “Hospital 2.0, says a source working on new hospital programme design.
Year away from a start on site
The “year away” is according to Mark Rowe, principal at Penoyre & Prasad, the architect working on the James Paget Hospital at Great Yarmouth in Norfolk. Penoyre & Prasad is now part of the massive Perkins + Will empire.
This does not help the hospitals in the new hospital programme not inflicted with the RAAC problem like Leeds in West Yorkshire, also a Penoyre and Prasad scheme which is oven ready to go.
This detailed RAAC report follows a prior conversation with Mark Rowe before the very recent Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay announcement.
“For the last twelve months we’ve had most people working on overseas projects, places West Africa and the Middle East, so right now in the UK we tread water and wait for the Government to make its mind up, said Rowe earlier this month – May, 2023.
“We are doing some front end work with Royal Free though not a lot of real action yet and also some work on that site, real projects, with UCL right now and St George’s Hospital Tooting and master plan stuff.
There are sources that claim the RACC hospitals will now take precedence with what is ever left with the money?
“Yes that is what we have heard. We should get some announcement soon. Meanwhile we fill the holes by working overseas while the UK gets its act together, he says.
So your the next big scheme to come out to the construction industry will be?
“This is just a personal view with no facts to back it up I think it will be Leeds. Even if on funding James Paget is among the schemes ear marked for approval Leeds is the one ready for market. James Paget is a year away and would have to go some to catch up with Leeds.
Leeds has already been up there ready to go?
“Well the Department of Health is always showing slides of Leeds ready to go so it must be in the favoured category but until money lands who knows.
So the others?
Airedale Hospital in West Yorkshire for Airedale Hospital for Airedale NHS Foundation Trust has had consultants like WSP Group and WT Partnership looking at this problem.
Employed few consultants
More recently this redevelopment, of bits of this hospital, has been very seriously affected by the lack of consultant advice.
Airdale has being doing bite sized jobs often with modular firms like Darwin, which is now owned by Portakabin.
I spoke to Airedale about flooring, just before Christmas 2022, when the market was rife with rumours about floors that were not rigid enough and caused wobbling – enough to affect instrumentation readings.
This was from Richard Burgin of AGH Solutions, which is attached to Airedale trust.
So any issues with previous methodologies and have they changed for the next scheme?
“Yes I would say so and the floor is always a concern, particularly in line with the size of hospital buildings. The fact that they are clad boxes, there can be a lot of timber in them. We have installed a timber floor in the intensive care unit. We have an increase in the number of bariatric patients, an increase in sophistic equipment, all these sorts of things and the ability of floors to carry loads is an issue, he explained.
This building won an award at Healthcare Estates.
So the pre-cast concrete floor is the way forward but does the industry have any issues with regard to timber frame floors. You are amongst trusts pioneering this approach?
“We had issues relating to fire resistance. We do not have the time to employ lots of consultants for this though the statutory bodies, like the fire brigade, provide testing information. This was only for a small section of the floor. So how you extrapolate this across the entire floor we had to explore this with building control and Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, he says.
“We got there in the end, he adds.
So moving through a leaning curve relatively smoothly?
“I would not put a timber floor frame in another one – 100 percent, he confirms.
Really – any further reason why?
“Perhaps in an anchoring bias so when you are building on this scale expect it to be pre-cast concrete or in situ, he says.
So it is not a rigidity problem?
“No I am not saying that, you can make it as solid as you want. It is also not the material. It is an intrinsic bias right now in industry. Historically huge buildings have had timber frame floors. Look at the mills in the industrial era and the size of timber structures they used, he said.
Keep some newer buildings or complete rebuild
Other issues, like at Frimley Hospital in Surrey for NHS Frimley Health Foundation Trust, is do you keep the newer parts of the hospital, now rid of RAAC or redevelop the whole lot?
The firms often engaged at Frimley are Peninsula Projects, WT Partnership and ADP Architecture.
ADP worked on the Frimley master and options for the trust submission working with KD Health as planning consultant.
I asked if Frimley had done what Leighton Hospital in Cheshire for Mid Cheshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust did last year, 2022 which was engage Laing O’Rourke, so often the “favourite son” working on hospital projects, this time with Ryder Architects to get on with an outline business case.
This is a £600 million redevelopment of Leighton Hospital.
AHR was incumbent and the idea was getting on with the first part of the redevelopment, an £80 million scheme, but was the cheapest way simply to rebuild hospital. The rest of the team is RLB especially Christain Balshaw and Archus is the project manager and health planner especially Neil Grice.
So what about Frimley and a potential way forward?
“No this is all the options because of the complexity of the site. The discussions have been about rebuilding in-situ so knocking down and rebuilding bits like has been the case here. Some of the site is now post RAAC, says Chris Thornton, national healthcare director at ADP Architecture.
On line now the emphasis appears to be now taking the whole site and rebuild on a new area.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out the RAAC schemes will be in the mix. You would think they will be prioritized. If you give people half a chance they often reach sensible conclusions, somebody very close to NHSE+I said last month – April, 2023.
Years ago NHSE+I allocated £100 million of seed corn money to the trusts running the seven hospitals affected by factory made reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) plank failure.
This follows a NHSE+I task force carrying out checks and this is preliminary money to carry out further detailed investigations.
Coventry based firm IDP Architecture won the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn in Norfolk commission.
This little known architect, with bolted on project management skills, burst onto the health scene winning work on the Nottingham HIP 2 scheme.
Ryder Architecture is also working in East Anglia with West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. This was a Cohort 3 scheme where Ryder Architecture is working on the main scheme and AD Architects has the residual estate work. Castons has a quantity surveying role. The residual estate is on the Hardwick Manor site.
AD Architects, now owned by Brussels based VK Architects and Engineers but operating in Belgium and Holland, Luxembourg, France and Spain and an annual 20 million Euros turnover in healthcare alone.
The affected hospitals are:
Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn in Norfolk for Queen Elizabeth Hospital Kings Lynn NHS Trust;
James Paget Hospital, Great Yarmouth for East James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust;
Airedale Hospital in West Yorkshire for Airedale Hospital for Airedale NHS Foundation Trust;
West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds for West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust; Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon for North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust. and
Frimley Hospital in Surrey for NHS Frimley Health Foundation Trust and
Leighton Hospital in Cheshire for Mid Cheshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
This follows the standing committee on structural safety (SCOSS) issuing guidance to NHSE+I after a sudden collapse of a flat roof at a school in Essex in 2019.
RAAC uses porous concrete, which can allow in moisture and degrade the reinforced steel within. This concrete cladding system dates back to the 1960s construction and is failing all over the place. It can actually fail without warning even after lots of testing so it is dangerous.