Cost management of NHS Nightingale Hospital

Marc Menear
A new NHS Nightingale hospital has opened in the West Country, to treat up to 300 COVID-19 patients if needed.

The NHS Nightingale Hospital Bristol has opened at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol)’s Frenchay campus. UWE Bristol’s Exhibition and Conference Centre is housing the COVID-19 support hospital, treating patients across the South West, hosted by North Bristol NHS Trust on behalf of the Severn region.

Three hundred beds are available if local services need them.

Framework support for fast-track project

Like the Nightingale hospitals in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Harrogate,  Glasgow, Exeter and Wearside,  the Bristol conversion project was fast track, with all parties mobilised in the shortest possible timeframe.

Design and construction of a hospital in 17 days requires a departure from the norms, and the use of PPN 01/20 and the government's Procure 22[1] framework, to appoint the main contractor, has expedited the process. Faithful+Gould’s cost management services for the hospital conversion were procured through the NHS SBS framework.

The project exemplifies the effectiveness of frameworks/direct appointments for swift mobilisation with a pre-approved supply chain. Speed was especially important here, but frameworks provide other benefits too, including:

  • cost savings, resulting in value for public sector spend
  • an opportunity to share information and expertise
  • more integrated working
  • early engagement, generating direction and efficiency
  • support for local economies through SMEs
  • community engagement and social economic investment

Cost management that supports the pace of the project

Accurate costing remains important, even at this difficult time, and our team is supporting North Bristol NHS Trust in achieving best value for the taxpayer’s money. We check, monitor and report on the costs—and it’s critical that these are accurate—while supporting the pace of the project. We have excellent internal benchmarking data at our disposal, enabling fast verification of material quantities and rates.

The biggest challenge on the project is responding to an evolving brief while delivering the services at the same time. We’ve been substantiating costs while the contractor is still acquiring rates from sub-contractors, in response to the inevitable operational changes and updates. Many stakeholders are involved across the client body, the operational teams and the supply chain, and all are under considerable pressure to make this project a success.

The facility has a heavy M&E component, given the requirement for oxygen, power and digital infrastructure. Our team includes a specialist M&E cost expert, to ensure that these services costs are subject to the same rigorous scrutiny as the building fit-out and fabric.

Regular progress valuations are also part of our cost management role, enabling prompt payment of the contractor and their supply chain during this critical, collaborative project—all of us in the built environment industries understand the importance of these prompt payments, to help companies of all sizes to survive at this difficult time.

Fast-paced fit-outs are common in the industry, but this project really is an extraordinary undertaking. For Faithful+Gould, it’s a privilege to be a member of the team on this Nightingale Hospital, as part of the construction industry’s contribution to the vital work of the NHS.

[1] Procure22 is currently extended for up to 12 months due to Covid-19.

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