Northumbria Healthcare is investing £35 million to build of a state-of-the-art hospital in Berwick-upon-Tweed.
The 21st-century hospital to replace the old infirmary will create 295 full-time equivalent jobs per year during the construction and operational phases, and generate more than £17million to the local economy during the build.
The project is a big part of what the trust’s sustainability agenda is about – refreshing the buildings that staff work in so they’re suitable for patients and workers, innovate where ever possible and help the local economy regenerate.
Planning permission was approved in December 2020, and since then the project team has continued to work around the clock to move to the build phase.
The trust worked in partnership with Northern Archaeological Associates to carry out an archaeological dig at the beginning of the construction project, making some significant finds, some dating back to 1100AD. The hospital site lies within the town walls constructed around 1296, but little is known about life in Berwick before this time. This site is one of the biggest that archaeologists have had the opportunity to work on in Berwick. Walls, pottery, fish bones and what is thought to be stone yards, associated with Low Greens, have been found.
Latest update - February 2023
We are very pleased to let you know that construction of Berwick’s new and long-awaited £35 million hospital has begun.
An invitation to find out more and meet the project team
We are holding a public drop-in session for people to find out more and meet the project team. Clinical colleagues and representatives from Well Close Medical Group will also be on hand to talk about the services that will be provided from the new hospital.
The drop-in event is being held on Thursday, March 9, between 2.30pm and 7pm, at the William Elder Building, 56-58 Castlegate, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, TD15 1JT. We hope that you can make it.
Manufacturing approach in Merit’s Cramlington factory
As you may be aware, we have appointed Merit Health as our construction partner and a large proportion of the hospital’s services infrastructure and fit-out will be built offsite at Merit’s factory in Cramlington.
Work has now begun, using the modern offsite method of construction, to manufacture 650 pre-assembled modules (PAMs), weighing around 195 tonnes in total, and 17 UltraPODs® weighing around 300 tonnes.
The PODs will house all mechanical, electrical and plumbing services. This will include power, lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and fire alarm systems. The PAMS, which will sit underneath the PODs in the ceiling framework, will act as the distribution network for the services into the hospital building.
A very special part of the project will be when what has been manufactured in the factory, especially the PAMs and PODs, are transported to site. It is quite a spectacle to see!
Benefits of this modern off-site construction method
One of the main benefits of the offsite approach to construction is that work on-site and in the factory is done in parallel, meaning that projects can be completed a lot quicker than the traditional build model.
Using the offsite approach to construction will also reduce local disruption, site traffic and noise as the majority of the work will take place in Merit’s factory in Cramlington rather than on site in Berwick. This also makes the project more sustainable as there will be less vehicle movement. Manufacturing in a controlled factory environment also means that the build is not impacted by the weather.
An outline of the next stages of the project
While work is on-going in the Merit factory, work to level the Berwick site and dig out the hospital footprint will start within the next few weeks and should be done by early summer. The foundations will then be laid and the steel frame of the building will be erected.
Once the frame of the hospital has been constructed, stairs and floors will be installed along with an accessible rooftop. The building will then be clad and glazed externally to weatherproof it and ensure it is water-tight. After this, we will install the offsite manufactured components (including the PAMs and PODs) that will form the network of services for the building. We will then be able to fit out the hospital.
The energy centre, which was going to be housed in its own building, has recently received planning permission to be installed within PODS on the rooftop of the building. This will free up space on site.
Once the main build is complete, demolition of the remaining old hospital buildings, with exception of the clock tower, will be carried out. The car park and access roads will be built and landscaping work completed.
It is hoped that the new hospital will open towards the end of next year.
Continually considering what services we can provide from our new hospital
Our new hospital will not only provide top quality healthcare well into the future, but will also provide a much-improved environment for our staff and patients, enable additional services to be provided and also support staff recruitment and retention. It will be something that Berwick and indeed Northumberland and the North East can be very proud of!
It is really exciting that we will have a new endoscopy suite and we are also considering services including colposcopy, audiology and dental services. When thinking about joined-up and holistic patient care, it is going to be so beneficial to have one of the local GP practices, Well Close Medical Group, within our new hospital too.
Thank you to residents, stakeholders and our staff
While we are absolutely delighted that we have reached this very significant milestone and that the construction of our fantastic new hospital has begun, we have to acknowledge the very long time that people have waited for this and we thank every single person involved for getting us to this point.
Our staff have been incredibly resilient over the last three years especially, coping with a global pandemic and all the work that has been done on the Berwick Infirmary site. Local residents and communities have been very patient too and we appreciate and thank you for that.
We would like to reassure people that we are very mindful that a project of this nature and size, and the location of where the new hospital is to be built, will cause disruption and we will do everything we can to minimise this. We are committed to ensuring that we continue to keep everyone updated as the project progresses. We encourage people to come along to our public drop-in session.
When will works on site begin?
Site cabins will be set up this month. Work to set out and level the site will commence mid-April (after pre-commencement conditions) and will be completed by early summer.
When did the work in the factory begin?
Works in Merit’s Cramlington-based factory began at the end of January.
Why has the cost of building the hospital increased?
The costs reflect the industry increases in building cost inflation and other associated supply chain cost increases
A high-level order of what will be done
Work to level the site and dig out the hospital footprint will start within the next few weeks (mid-April – after pre-commencement conditions) and should be done by early summer. The foundations will then be laid and the steel frame of the building will be erected.
Once we have constructed the frame of the hospital, stairs and floors will be installed along with an accessible rooftop. The building will then be clad and glazed externally to weatherproof it and ensure it is water tight. After this, we will install the offsite manufactured components that will form the network of services for the building. We will then be able to fit out the hospital.
Why has offsite construction been chosen for this specific project and what benefits does it bring?
Work on site and in the factory is done in parallel, meaning that projects can be completed a lot quicker than the traditional build model.
This approach to construction will also reduce local disruption, site traffic and noise as the majority of the work will take place in Merit’s factory in Cramlington rather than on site in Berwick. The project will also be more sustainable as there will be less vehicle movement.
Manufacturing in a controlled factory environment also means that the build is not impacted by the weather.
What is a Pod?
The Pods (a large framed structure) contain all mechanical, electrical and plumbing services. This includes power, lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and fire alarm systems. The Pods will sit on the roof of the new Hospital.
What is a PAM?
A Pre-Assembled Module (PAM) is a smaller structure that acts as a distribution network for the (above) services into the hospital building
What aspects of the build are traditional?
Traditional components for the build include site set out and levelling, earth moving works to form the site footprint, the piling and foundations and construction of the main steel frame of the building to form the external walls.
The floors will then be insulated and a screed applied to form the finished floors. At this point the external cladding and glazing will commence to provide a weatherproof or water tight environment for the internal works to commence
When will the project be completed?
Project completion is targeted for the end of 2024.
What will Merit do to minimise disruption to the local community?
Merit’s offsite approach ensures that projects can be completed a lot quicker than the traditional model.
This approach will also reduce local disruption, noise, site traffic (less vehicle movements) and reduce the number of people on site as the majority of the work will take place in Merit’s factory in Cramlington rather than on site in Berwick.
Merit will also ensure that the team proactively time deliveries outside of school hours throughout the duration of the build in order to avoid traffic disruption.
What will Merit do to minimise noise and traffic disruption?
Construction site noise, vibration and dust monitoring systems will be in place to constantly assess build activity to minimise disruption where possible.
Merit is planning on registering the build as part of the considerate constructor’s scheme. This highlights Merit’s commitment to being more considerate to local communities, the environment and its own workforce.
How will large delivery vehicles navigate the very narrow roads around the site to make deliveries?
Throughout the duration of the build, there will be a series of parking bay suspensions in place to allow for large vehicle movements and deliveries. A resident letter-drop will inform affected properties in advance.
Why does it take the time it does to deliver a project of this nature?
Merit’s approach ensures that project delivery time is halved through offsite manufacturing techniques. The size and complexity of the build will be completed in 80 weeks.
What services will the new hospital include?
The new Hospital will provide all of the services that have been provided previously and will include a JAG accredited endoscopy suite. We are continually considering what other services we can provide and these include colposcopy, audiology and dental services.
What is the benefit of having Well Close Medical Group located within the hospital?
This will enable more joined-up patient care and patient experience will be improved. There is also a benefit in relation to maximising the use of space in the new hospital.
Will the opening hours of Well Close Medical Group remain the same?
Yes. If anything does change, we will let patients know.
Will there be any changes to services provided by Well Close Medical Group?
All services currently delivered will continue to be provided.
When will we be able to access the new hospital services?
The new hospital will be opened in two sections. Merit will complete towards the end of 2024.
Berwick Hospital Arts Steering Group update
There are some interim projects planned to create interest while building work continues.
This includes an exhibition at the Infirmary for local artists and new artwork from Berwick Academy for display on the building hoardings - both planned for this summer.
There are various exciting art interventions planned for the new hospital and an application for funding has been made to the Arts Council with a decision expected in early May.
Proposed plans include an interior mobile sculpture, external sculpture, community ceramic artwork for the garden, wood carving commission and community art gallery space for the new hospital.
Who is project managing the scheme on behalf of Northumbria Healthcare?
Northumbria Healthcare’s specialist estates subsidiary company, Northumbria Healthcare Facilities Management, has been engaged to deliver the scheme and they have partnered with an external design team that includes construction project managers, Turner & Townsend. As part of the project management service, Turner & Townsend has assigned Liam Robinson to lead on this project. Liam’s role will include overseeing all construction related activity in Merit’s factory and on site, ensuring the project maintains the required quality standards and is delivered on time and within budget.
Who is Merit?
Based in Cramlington, Northumberland – Merit is a leading offsite construction and manufacturing specialist with 20 years’ experience in designing and building facilities in various sectors including healthcare.
What does Merit do?
Merit’s team design and build high-quality, zero carbon emission buildings for the healthcare, bioscience and pharmaceutical sectors. Merit’s offsite components are manufactured in its Cramlington factories, where they are then subsequently transported to site for installation.
- Antony – Project Director: Accountable for the successful delivery of the project
- Mark – Project Manager: Responsible for the day-to-day coordination of the works, health & safety aspects, the programme and all local liaison.
- Molly – Lead Model Author – VDC Architectural: Responsible for the architectural elements of the layout. Furthermore, responsible for dealing with all regulatory requirements and flows of patients, the staff and materials.
What other facilities have Merit built?
Merit recently constructed the £8m healthcare sterilisation facility (CSSD) for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in Cramlington, Northumberland. The two-storey facility provides a critical support service for the Trust and other healthcare organisations in the Northeast.
Trial of drones to transport medical supplies
You may be aware that we have started a trial to use drones to carry medical supplies between Wansbeck Hospital in Ashington up to Alnwick and Berwick Infirmaries. This is a pilot project which has no bearing on the new hospital development.
The trust and its partner, Apian, has approval from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to fly drones on this route from 13 February to 12 May. The aim is to discover if drones could be used as part of our logistics network, providing a more efficient way of transporting chemotherapy drugs and blood samples between the hospitals. This is in line with our commitment to provide as much care as possible in people’s own communities.
The drone take-off and landing site for Berwick is at the Heritage Quay in Tweedmouth. More information on the project can be found at apian.aero/
June 2020 - Trust seeks planning approval for new Berwick hospital
December 2020 - Green light for new £25million Berwick hospital
December 2020 - MP marks start of works on new Berwick hospital
April 2021 - Unearthing Berwick-upon-Tweed's medieval past
June 2021 - Latest milestone reached for Berwick's new £30 million hospital
November 2021 - Inpatients back at Berwick Infirmary after temporary move during demolition work
February 2022 - Berwick barrel causes a stink while wall raises questions about town’s past
August 2022 - Students’ artworks with wellbeing focus unveiled at Berwick hospital site
October 2022 - Berwick's new hospital is a step closer
February 2023 - Significant milestone reached for Berwick's new hospital