Let’s set the scene, its 26th March 2020, Steve Meigh, who leads the MEP team in the Ridge Bristol office, took a call late in the evening and was asked to attend a briefing session at 8am the following morning in the UWE exhibition centre. The brief was simple – to deliver over 300 intensive care unit (ICU) beds into the existing mothballed centre within 4 weeks. By midday on 27th March, floor tiles were being lifted and services modified to enable the critical timescale items to be targeted first.
The only records for the building were outdated/incomplete ‘as fitted’ layouts. The first task was to understand what the NHS inherited in terms of existing MEP infrastructure, and what could be adapted/reconfigured to suit the stringent requirements. Ridge compared the potential of the existing services to the HTM’s relevant for intensive care provision, and highlighted derogations or work required to meet the standards. New services required for the ICU included generator and UPS emergency power back up to the beds, medical gases, vacuum, oxygen depletion from ventilators and critical ventilation air-change rates. All achieved through intrusive surveys/validations recorded in a matter of days and then moving onto evaluation and adoption/reconfiguration design.
You have all done an amazing job but what stands out to me more than anything else is your professionalism. In my opinion what you have achieved is nothing short of a miracle. It’s been an absolute pleasure to deal with you on this project. It’s a small world and I hope our paths will cross again.
Ant Burn, Strategic Estates Lead, Estates Delivery Team, NHS England and NHS Improvement – Commercial Directorate
Ridge was based on site for the duration of the project – 12 hours per day, seven days a week, to ensure design decisions were made timeously/concisely for immediate installation. Drawings/details followed on to ensure continuous progress for such a demanding programme. Supply chain was critical with many manufacturers/suppliers closed due to ‘lockdown’ or in short supply due to Excel centre demand for bedhead luminaires/UPS/medical gases. Ridge used their contacts effectively to design and source key items with minimal delay, keeping the design flexible to suit the availability of products. ICU beds were modelled in BIM to ensure timely approval from NHS clinicians, before installing and replicating three hundred times.
Sharing the learning
Exeter, Southampton and Cardiff Nightingales were also gaining momentum. Main contractors from each scheme contacted Ridge to understand the challenges. Ridge shared the design with all parties freely to enable them to get up to speed quickly without any corporate gain. Two contractors attended Bristol Nightingale to understand what had/hadn’t worked well including nurse station prefabricated units with IPS panel, sink, copper pipework and instantaneous water heaters, speeding up installation dramatically.
Why this achievement makes Ridge proud to work in Building Services
A moral duty to get involved with the design of the Bristol Nightingale took precedence, in conjunction with the huge engineering feat to create an intensive care unit in an extremely short timescale. Ridge used their engineering skills to safeguard the delivery of the scheme with safety and efficiency for NHS staff and their delivery of care to vulnerable patients. Overcoming the challenges of an evolving brief, short learning curve and supply chain pressures makes Ridge proud to be flexible, problem solving engineers. Ridge BSE’s are passionate about all their work and their huge commitment and achievement on this successful Nightingale project, which is why this project has deservedly won this COVID-19 Achievement Award.
I am simply blown away with the hospital that you have all built for us and our patients. I really did have tears in my eyes when I started to walk around the facility this morning – it is a first class intensive care unit.
3 weeks ago I walked into that building with Ant Burn and we started to throw together some ideas for a field hospital. Your teams have actually done you all proud and built not just a field hospital but the UK’s newest and one of the smartest ICU’s. Please can you pass on our thanks. The doctors and nurses are fizzing with excitement to get into the building this afternoon and starting the next phase of preparedness.
Many times we have said that we sincerely hope the unit never needs to be used although I don’t think we are any rush to dismantle it and I’m certain that it will serve an important role over the coming months.
Good luck in your next projects – perhaps in calmer times to come we can all be working together again on an amazing project.
Tim Whittlestone, Chief Medical Officer at Bristol Nightingale Hospital