I&G complete challenging Barnsley Critical Care Unit build

I&G has completed its build of Barnsley Hospital’s £7.3m Critical Care Unit, after having to work creatively to battle complex access challenges.

The project, which was completed in a courtyard surrounding by active hospital buildings, involved the demolition of an existing facility and the creation of a brand new CCU, increasing the number of beds from seven to 16. For an environment such as critical care, quality had to be at the forefront, with all surfaces needing to meet stringent infection control requirements.

The build was accompanied by a host of logistical challenges, with three internal levels being constructed simultaneously. All construction materials, equipment and miles of cabling had to be brought in through a 2m x 2m doorway – an achievement compared by workers to being like building a hospital ward through the back of an ambulance. Large equipment and big deliveries were craned in outside of peak hospital times, with the I&G team having to continually rephase works to work around times of lowest footfall.

As well as difficulties around getting materials onto site, the build was also taking place in a live hospital environment, with access to operating rooms and the emergency birthing route needing to be maintained around the clock, and safety of hospital patients, staff and visitors being a top priority.

Despite all these issues, the build was completed on budget, with no accidents, and no loss of service for the hospital.

As well as doubling the amount of seriously ill patients who can be cared for in the department, the new facility also has more space, with extra privacy for patients, better lighting and more space for physiotherapists to conduct bedside consultations. It is nearer the surgical high dependency unit, so patient transfers are easier, and an area for patients’ families to stay overnight was also created. All this contributes to a better patient experience, shorter stays and quicker discharges, leading to better patient outcomes and less pressure on the hospital. The facility is also pandemic-ready, with eight extra escalation bays which can be brought into service overnight if needed.

Paul Russell, Operations Manager at I&G said:

“This was one of the most challenging builds I’ve worked on in my 30 year career, but it was really satisfying to see the difference the ward will make to patients and staff. Having to coordinate such a major build through a hospital corridor was a definite first for me, but we’ve worked on several projects in live hospital environments, and people now recognise us as sensitive constructors who can adapt to any work environment.

“The Critical Care Unit is a place none of us would ever want to be, but it’s reassuring to know that the new unit is available to provide the best care to us and our loved ones if we ever need it.”

Barnsley Hospital’s Clinical Director for Surgery Dr Tim Wenham said of the new unit:

“This project is great news for both our patients and our staff as this high-quality, purpose-built unit will allow us to provide the best possible care for our patients. In addition to the massively improved space and environment there is also the huge safety advantage of greater proximity to theatres, radiology and the emergency department.”

The new Critical Care Unit has now been officially handed over to Barnsley Hospital, and is expected to be operational from August 2023.