The Coronavirus pandemic was the health crisis that spread globally and became our greatest challenge since World War Two. As 2020 became a year like no other, working together and resilience was more important than ever. Following reports of patient surges throughout Europe, the UK government realised that they would have to prepare for significant patient numbers. Fearing our hospitals did not have the capacity for this unprecedented demand should the rate of infection escalate, there became a demand for more surge hospitals with as many beds as could be provided, to be constructed as soon as possible. Therefore, the government made plans to build surge hospitals throughout the UK to cope. Mott MacDonald offered the NHS support, mobilising resources across the UK, stepping in to provide multiple services across England, Wales, and Scotland. In Cardiff, this required converting the iconic Principality Stadium into a functioning hospital. Overall, this project involved 1340 staff to work under enormous pressure with tight time constraints due to COVID-19 regulations.
We were on site within 24 hours of receiving the request, acting as project manager, lead designer, and cost consultant for the project. Quick delivery was critical to the success of this project, but Health and Safety was always at the forefront of delivery, with social distancing and PPE being strongly implemented. We were able to overcome problems that arose by working together efficiently and innovatively, allowing us to keep the incredible momentum created by the workforce. These key aspects of the project, including, collaboration, innovation, efficiency, and resource management all contributed to the success of the hospital being completed quickly, supporting the NHS at a crucial time.
In practice, the level of interaction between partners was absolute. A ‘one team’ mentality quickly emerged, with all staff co-located together and present every day on site. Throughout this process we have been able to respond to a crisis like no other in our lifetimes, with an intense focus on pulling together for the benefit of society, collaboratively managing the time and resources required. The first 300 beds were available in just 11 days, with a total of 1500 by final handover. This excellent technical delivery of such a tight programme allowed us to rapidly and innovatively provide the support required to care for those severely in need of the NHS.
The integration of all teams on this project became key to the success of completion and to see the engagement of so many organisations and staff from all different backgrounds working collaboratively with a strong and coherent dynamic to complete the hospital on time was a very rewarding outcome to us.
“Together, we have built and mobilised the Ysbyty Calon Y Ddraig, Dragon’s Heart Hospital in a matter of weeks. It was an enormous undertaking but thanks to your dedication and unwavering effort we have accomplished far more than we ever thought possible.” – Jonathan Gray, Director of Transformation and Informatics, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board