Portakabin cranes final modules in at Royal Stoke University Hospital

Off-site solution creates new ward and theatre accommodation

Each module was craned onto the site

Portakabin Hire has completed the first phase of construction of a major project to expand ward and theatre accommodation for orthopaedic services at Royal Stoke University Hospital.

The £13.5m contract – the largest in Portakabin Hire’s 52-year history – is for the provision of a complex 4,200sq m, two-storey building. The scheme will be completed in less than four months to increase capacity at the hospital.

124 steel-framed modules have now been craned into position in a complex operation which involved a 350-tonne crane on a highly-restricted site immediately adjacent to fully-occupied wards and close to a busy road. The cranage phase took just 18 days and involved working through three weekends to deliver the building in the shortest-possible time.

During the cranage process, Portakabin managed and maintained access for 200 students to the adjacent Keele University Medical School and co-ordinated operations with West Midlands Air Ambulance for inbound emergency patients.

The units, each up to 14m long and weighing up to nine tonnes, were installed complete with wall finishes, internal partitioning, M&E services and flooring already in place, further reducing work and disruption on the busy hospital site. The modules are built to permanent standards, comply with all current Building Regulations and have a design life of 60 years.

Due for completion in spring 2015, the building will provide 56 new inpatient beds, two large state-of-the-art, clean air theatres for all orthopaedic procedures, recovery room, ‘dirty’ and ‘clean’ utilities, single rooms with en-suite bathrooms, staff changing rooms, reception, kitchenette, offices, a 33-person ‘crash team’ lift, and an integral plant room.

John Simpson, director of corporate services at the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, said: “This type of construction allows us to benefit from a much-shorter delivery programme so we can have the new facility up and running more quickly, meeting the increasing demand for services and enhancing the patient experience.

“While the building is constructed to permanent standards, its modular construction gives us greater flexibility as the facilities can be dismantled and removed if service needs change. The use of a modular solution is also helping us to radically reduce disruption to patient care on a fully-operational and highly-constrained hospital site, and we have much greater assurance of delivery on programme and on budget.”

Commenting on the cranage operation, Robert Snook, director and general manager of Portakabin Hire, said: “We are pleased to report that the cranage phase went very smoothly, despite working in the winter months. This was a highly-complex operation in terms of scale, logistics, difficult access for vehicles and the extremely-close proximity of the new building to existing hospital facilities which remained in use throughout.”

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