Royal Orthopaedic Hospital goes modular

New theatre and ward block complex delivered by ModuleCo for Birmingham hospital

How the new modular ward and theatre block at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Birmingham, will look

Patients have started using a new theatre and ward complex at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham.

The new facilities are housed in a state-of-the-art three-storey modular building and consist of two orthopaedic operating theatre suites with a six-bed recovery suite and a 12-bed inpatient ward, including two rooms for young adults.

The first phase of the project completed just before Christmas with two hip replacement operations taking place on December 23.

Since then, the new theatres have been running six days a week at maximum capacity.

The trust considered and explored modular and traditional build structures before making its decision. It was looking for a solution that reduced disruption to what is a very busy site and which would allow ease of management

The second phase, which will start later this year, will add a further two theatres and an additional 11 beds.

Once fully completed, an extra 2,500 patients will be treated every year and the facility will create in the region of 130 new jobs.

The project has been delivered by ModuleCo Healthcare (MCH) in conjunction with its manufacturing partner, ModuleCo.

The trust agreed a managed services agreement with MCH for an initial long-term commitment of 10 years.

The rental is inclusive of the facility, enabling works and equipment for both the theatres and ward.

It meant that no capital investment was required from the trust for the new modular facility, allowing any additional capital the trust did have available to be put into core services as the trust had peace of mind the funding of the project was assured through MCH.

It is hard to distinguish modern modular solutions from their traditionally-built counterparts

Alan Wilson, managing director of MCH, said: “We are delighted to have successfully delivered the first phase of this project.

“An ever-growing number of hospital trusts are choosing to increase their capacity by going modular.

“The appeal centres on the quality of product, the speed of delivery, and the minimal disruption to site.

“We deliver the modules in a single weekend and within a matter of weeks they are fully operational.”

The hospital needed to create resilience in a timely and economic way and deliver it quickly as the theatres are located on a land-locked 14-acre site with little or no room to expand.

Professor Philip Begg, executive director of strategy and delivery, said: “It felt a little like doing heart surgery. The site was at the heart of the hospital surrounded by wards, theatres and high dependency units and the new theatres had to be built without causing any disruption.

“In 2015, two of the old Nightingale wards, which were empty and incurring capital costs, were demolished, giving the trust a brownfield site. The problem was that it was in the centre of the hospital estate and was tricky to develop.

“The trust considered and explored modular and traditional build structures before making its decision. It was looking for a solution that reduced disruption to what is a very busy site and which would allow ease of management.

“Going modular was the stand-out solution because of the speed of the build, taking only 28 weeks from order to handover.

"If the trust had opted for a traditional build, it is likely now that it would only be halfway through the programme.

“The new, state-of-the-art theatres were built off site, dismantled into 26 deliverable units and then craned into the site with minimum disruption over a six-day period.”

Work started on site in May 2019. After the enabling works were all done, the modules were craned in having been manufactured at a dedicated assembly facility in Mitcheldean, Gloucestershire.

Staff had an input into how the new facilities were designed

Begg said: “When you are inside an MCH healthcare building it looks and feels no different to any other conventionally-built facility you will find in a hospital.

"The finishes benefit from being completed in a controlled factory environment and cannot be distinguished from traditional finishes.

“The team from MCH and ModuleCo worked closely with the trust staff who were going to be working in the facility, enabling them to have the opportunity to influence the design and finishes."

Staff had an input into how the new facilities were designed

“For example, the nursing team had the chance to influence the colour scheme, the layout, bathroom locations, and the best position for the four-bed wards.

“The layout of the six-bed recovery bay was also changed, and the colour and finishings chosen to reflect a calm ambience.

“The staff are delighted with the space they have now. Once there were no windows in operating theatres, but now we have high-level windows that allow natural daylight into the room.

“There are also new laminar flow canopies which enable a flow of highly-filtered, ultra-clean air to envelope the patient to reduce the risk of surgical site infection. This is a modern facility and the plant is much more efficient.

“Layout is vastly improved. The surgeons have their scrub facilities adjacent to theatre. And the anaesthetic rooms are sized to allow more space to work and increased storage means important equipment and supplies are closer to hand.

“It means that patients are being operated on in the highest-quality surroundings, using the best technology.”