Sections of the Grange University Hospital open a year ahead of schedule


Laing O’Rourke, in collaboration with international property and construction consultancy Gleeds, has completed works on several sections of the £350 million Grange University Hospital in Gwent, South Wales, allowing part of the hospital to open almost a year ahead of schedule in response to Aneurin Bevan University Health Board’s preparedness in tackling Covid-19.


Chief Executive Judith Paget, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, said, “At the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak we needed to plan for the worst case scenario. I would like to thank Laing O’Rourke and Gleeds for the great amount of effort and skill they have shown to get these areas of the hospital ready for us to use. Thankfully the general public have observed the advice on staying at home and social distancing, so we don’t need to open the extra beds just yet. I would urge people to keep following the government guidance to protect themselves, to ease the pressure on our NHS services, and to save lives.” 

With more than half of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Wales reportedly falling within the region, the completion of the hospital has been fast-tracked in order to make 384 new beds available to patients battling the disease if required.  With Gleeds as project manager and cost manager on the development, and Laing O’Rourke as construction partner, the team have collaborated to deliver the works on behalf of The Health Board.

Victoria Head, Project Director at Gleeds, said; “Since its inception the Grange University Hospital project has always had a true collaborative ethos at its heart – working together for a shared goal. Gleeds led the leadership team of Laing O’Rourke and ABUHB in its commitment to supporting the Health Board during this national crisis and we’ve stuck to that, proudly tackling every challenge to complete the hospital in record time by adopting a solution- based approach.”

Just four-weeks after the health board asked the team to respond to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis, on Monday 27 April, it took possession of 50% of the space within the hospital. With takeover of the majority of the ward blocks, the ground floor of the diagnostic & treatment including the pathology, pharmacy, FM and mortuary departments, car parking zones, and plant areas, NHS staff now have the capacity to treat at least 350 patients, should it be required. 

Mike Lewis, Laing O’Rourke Project Director said: “Aneurin Bevan University Hospital Board had the foresight to ask us to bring our construction programme forward, creating 384 bed spaces as part of their preparations to tackle coronavirus in Wales. I am humbled by the tremendous effort shown by all in our project team and I thank them for their commitment. Our motivation to deliver key parts of The Grange for use a year ahead of schedule has been driven by our determination to provide vital NHS facilities and to support all those working in the NHS, to whom we owe so much.”

The project team answered the call by reprioritising site activities, with a new commissioning strategy designed to allow for zonal access and reallocation of resources. The Health Board team was also able to work alongside the project team on a live site, fitting out the wards with beds and equipment. This collaborative approach condensed the commissioning and soft landings periods from twelve for four weeks.

Extensive resource planning was required balancing the need to deliver a fast-track programme while ensuring the safety of the workforce, all of whom worked in line with government and health guidelines. 

All those who had the ability to work from home, did so. Stringent and strict hygiene measures were put in place along with patterns and methods of work that allowed for social distancing. Extended working hours with split shifts were introduced with the project team continuing to deliver over weekends as well as over the Easter period making sure they could keep to the commitment to deliver the hospital to the Health Board early. 

“With the best will in the world, fundamentally, had this been a traditional build with the same start date we would not have been in a position to offer support to this national pandemic and the NHS. We’ve always been proud of the modern methods of construction (MMC) involved at GUH and the programme savings which it offered compared to a traditional build but never have the benefits been more apparent than during this crisis” concluded Victoria Head. 

The hospital is ready to operate as a fully functioning facility supporting the NHS and acute services in South East Wales as soon as the Covid-19 data suggests it would be necessary and helpful. Meanwhile, using careful segregation fully endorsed by Infection Control, Building Control and Fire Officers, work will continue on the remainder of the build with a view to formally completing the scheme in spring 2021. 

The architects on the project were BDP.