Publish date: 19 October 2022

Berwick's new hospital is a step closer

A drone shot of Berwick.

Construction of Berwick’s new £30 million hospital is a step closer as additional key milestones are reached.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is preparing to hand over the site where the new hospital will be built to its main construction partner, Merit Health, who are based in Cramlington.

And the first phases of demolition and archaeology work are now complete.

The existing hospital building, which currently has a much-reduced footprint, and the maternity unit, which is now also home to physiotherapy, will be demolished once the new hospital is built.

Inpatient and other services including minor injuries, oncology and outpatients continue to be provided from the hospital. Around 60 clinics are currently delivered from the infirmary every month and 50 consultants help to deliver this patient care, alongside the team that are based at the hospital.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s executive director of nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals, Marion Dickson, said: “Delivering appropriate patient care as close to home as possible is a top priority for us in Berwick and we are committed to ensuring that we provide as many services as we can from our fantastic new hospital. We know that our staff and local communities are proud of their hospital.

“We are currently in discussions about bringing new services to the hospital and further enhancing existing services including gynaecology, colposcopy, urology, audiology and ophthalmology. We are also delighted to be bringing endoscopy services back to Berwick and in preparation for this are currently training more nurse endoscopists.

“We know that many patients would welcome additional services and it would significantly reduce the miles that our patients would need to travel. This is so important for sustainability too. The last two years have shown us that we can deliver excellent patient care in different ways and technology and telemedicine play a big part of this. For example, a patient could see a nurse at Berwick and discuss their treatment with a consultant at another site virtually.

“We also continue to work closely with our GPs in the local area and other healthcare colleagues to understand what additional services we should consider or what enhancements to services we should make. I want to assure people that we are working very hard to ensure we deliver as much patient care from Berwick as we can.

“I am so excited that we are soon to begin the construction phase. It means a huge amount to me too as a resident of Berwick to see this work progressing. Again, I thank our wonderful staff for all of their hard work and efforts. An important part of this project is also to ensure that our staff have a much better environment to work in and that they have the facilities they need to support their wellbeing while at work.”

Historically important archaeological finds meant that this element of work did take longer than anticipated. Among these finds, which have given invaluable insight into Berwick’s medieval past, were a latrine, a well and a four-metre-wide defensive wall.

The design of the hospital is currently being finalised, in line with current planning consent. Materials needed for construction are being procured and Merit Health is preparing to start the manufacture of more than 750 pre-assembled modules (PAMs) which will form part of the inside of the new hospital. They will also manufacture more than 20 PODs, which will contain air handling units and mechanical and electrical equipment.

Work on site will run parallel with work being carried out to manufacture the PAMs and PODs at Merit Health’s factory in Cramlington. The initial work on site will include ground works, installing drainage and laying foundations.

It is expected that Merit Health will begin the off-site manufacturing work before Christmas and that preparation work on site will begin too.

A drone shot of Berwick.

Merit Health’s CEO, Tony Wells, said: “Merit’s unique way of delivering next-generation, patient-centric buildings is gaining significant traction. This will be our second project with Northumbria Healthcare. Berwick’s new hospital will be delivered using our FLEXI POD® solution, which was used to deliver the trust’s new sterile services facility in Cramlington in just over a year.

“Berwick Hospital will be built much quicker than traditional construction using a hybrid approach. Site works will run in parallel with the manufacture of pre-assembled modules (PAMs) and PODs in the Merit factory in Northumberland.

“This will be a factory-manufactured, next-generation hospital design, incorporating enhanced infection control and a zero-carbon emissions design, eliminating entirely scope 1 emissions. The trust’s focus on using an offsite manufactured approach to construction speaks volumes, we will be delivering something new and exciting together for the community of Berwick, designed and manufactured in Northumberland for the people of Northumberland.”

The PAMs and PODs will make the 60-mile journey from Cramlington to Berwick in a sequenced approach in line with the construction and installation programme.

Once the hospital building has been constructed, the remaining old hospital buildings will then be demolished and archaeological work in these areas will be done. The final phases of work will include building the new car park and landscaping. It is anticipated that the project will take around 18 months.

Northumbria Healthcare Facilities Management (NHFM), which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the trust, will deliver this project. Damon Kent, NHFM’s managing director, said: “Modular construction is now a preferred method of construction and it is fantastic that we are able to use this very modern method on such an historic site.

“The life-span of the building will be around 80 years, the same as a traditional build, but this approach brings significant benefits. It will take at least a year less to build the hospital, be much less disruptive for local communities and it has significant environmental benefits. Doing construction off-site also means that delays because of the weather, for example, will be avoided. This reflects the willingness of Northumbria Healthcare to embrace innovation and also demonstrates its very determined commitment to being as sustainable as possible.”

The trust also has an arts strategy and will continue to engage with local communities and a wide range of organisations and partners to develop this strategy. This includes how some of the archaeological finds will be showcased and how this important historical story is told, what artwork will be in the hospital and hospital grounds, working with local schools and developing additional arts and community partnerships.

Media contact

Cara Charlton, head of PR, Northumbria Healthcare

cara.charlton@northumbria-healthcare.nhs.ukor 07812 389 963.