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Adapting to meet the demands of Covid-19


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Original plans to repurpose a former maternity ward into a flexible decant ward space were adapted to meet an urgent need for bed space, due to a large increase in Covid patients.

As the Covid-19 pandemic swept towards a new peak this winter, Eastbourne General Hospital came under increasing pressure to create bed space for patients suffering with the disease.

Wilmott Dixon were already on site, delivering a £2 million refurbishment of a former maternity ward through the SCAPE Construction framework for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust. Originally this work was intended to provide a flexible Decant Ward space for a programme of planned fire upgrades to eight other wards across the hospital.

The project benefitted from a rapid pre-construction period, which saw progression from PCSA appointment to financial close in four weeks, including the procurement of key supply chain packages.

As the Trust began to see a large increase in Covid related hospital admissions in November and December, pressure mounted on their capacity to treat patients. Working alongside their local supply chain partners and in liaison with the Trust, Wilmott Dixon accelerated the work, to provide additional bed space as the pandemic took hold. Six beds were handed over early in late December and within two days were in full use by the Trust for Covid patients. The remaining 22 beds were handed over on 18th January 2021, 11 days early.

The work included the re-modelling and internal refurbishment of a former maternity ward, to create new shower rooms, toilets and bed space for patients with medical gas installed. It also involved installation of new window fenestrations and cladding to the exterior building and courtyards.

Willmott Dixon Eastbourne General Hospital 1

Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of staff and the public in a live environment is crucial on any project. During a pandemic, this is critical and so all Government Covid-19 guidelines must be followed to protect the safety of staff, patients and workers. Throughout the work at Eastbourne General Hospital, daily meetings were held between the Wilmott Dixon team and stakeholders from the adjacent Pathology Lab, to minimise disruption to existing wards and ensure safe working during the construction period.

This project truly demonstrates the flexibility built into our SCAPE frameworks and the adaptability of our delivery partners. Well done to the entire project team for their speedy, safe response in a time of need.