A two phased modernisation project of East Surrey Hospital’s operating theatres are due for completion in March 2015.
The theatres on site have been in operation since the hospital opened in 1983 and did not meet modern building regulations.
Speaking to Premier Construction, East Surrey Hospital’s Director of Information and Facilities, Ian Mackenzie said the project has been a delicate operation. Stage one of the project involved erecting a new building to hold four operating theatres.
“We originally set out to modernise the operating theatres within the current buildings existing footprint but we soon realised we couldn’t achieve the quality we wanted in the space available. Therefore the decision was taken to expand outwards.
“The new build project was granted planning consent in July 12 but conditional on being granted a licence by Natural England. The area selected to extend the new theatres had to be built over a pond that holds great crested newts, these are a European protected species. The pond area required represented 20% of the total pond area To comply with the planning condition we had to get a special licence from Natural England and build a new pond and habitat for the newts. The Trust employed an ecologist to handle the ‘Licence application’ and provide the migration strategy.
Once approval had been granted from Natural England, the team were able to start building work (May 13) for the two storey construction.( 1700sqm) The four new operating theatres are twice the size of previous theatres and contain top of the range equipment to comply with up to date clinical practises and regulations
The new theatres contain 2 x Telstar’ Ultra Clean Lamina flow ‘units (UCLF) air extracts which provide controlled conditions applicable to certain types of operating procedures. The UCLF are manufactured in Holland and the system is very much used in Europe but less known in UK. The Trust after detailed investigation chose this unit as a much improved solution over other UK models available. The first operation within the new theatres will commence in December 2013
Phase 2 of the project will be the rebuilding and modernisation of the existing theatres in the main hospital. Six new theatres will be refurbished bringing the number of operating theatres in the hospital to ten in addition to increasing recovery areas and staff changing facilities. The conversion of the existing theatres will begin in January 14 after completion and handover of the new theatres
Building work is being carefully planned to minimise impact on current theatre operating lists The criterion set by the Trust is that the project team must maintain nine operational theatres at any one time. Communication between building contractors and hospital staff is of paramount importance. The number of operations will not be decreased, despite the building work; temporary walls, temporary air handling plant, out of normal hours working is planned to ensure that operational criterion is maintained and to exacting clinical standards
Ian added that hospital staff and contractor Module Co for (Phase 1) are used to carrying out demanding and high quality delivery projects. The Trust has a lot of experience in working in difficult situations having just completed a multi-phase upgrade of the hospitals A & E Department. The next theatre Phase 2 will be equally difficult with constant demand on maintaining a clinical service within a challenging programme and budget. For instance, its planned to refurbish the recovery space by utilising existing theatres as a temporary recovery space and then transfer recovery patients back into new refurbished recovery space.
“Clearly if sensitive operational procedures are taking place surgeons will not want to experience any noise and vibration. We will have to work closely with operational colleagues and plan each step on a weekly and sometimes daily basis
“There will be building work on going during surgery but we will have to make sure that both objectives are closely co-ordinate with minimal disruption and inconvenience to the clinical team. Builders will be working unsociable hours and weekends on key aspects of the project to ensure that theatre services are maintained.
Main contractors Module Co (Phase 1) have worked for East Surrey Hospital previously, building a 40 bed ward block in the hospital. The project took just five months from start to completion.
Contractors for phase 2 are in the final stages of selection for commencement in the New Year
Ian Mackenzie said the project will provide modern operating theatres and recovery space with a much improved working environment for staff. The new theatres will contain individual rooms / areas for anaesthetics, clean prep, scrub and dirty utility. There is a 60% increase in post theatre recovery space to provide separation of obstetrics, paediatrics, male and female patients.