New Stroke unit in Norwich gets off the ground

Work began this week on NHS Norfolk’s single biggest capital spend project ever – an £8m dedicated stroke and general rehabilitation unit based in central Norfolk.

On Monday, August 24, construction work officially began on the building which will comprise a 24-bed stroke rehabilitation unit and a 24-bed general rehabilitation unit based at the Norwich Community Hospital site on Bowthorpe Road, in Norwich.

NHS Norfolk’s Director of Finance & Estates, David Stonehouse, explained that the new-build was the single biggest investment in any capital scheme since the primary care trust was established in 2006.

“This new, purpose-built facility demonstrates a major investment in the care and welfare of our patients, and it is part of our commitment to aid in the recovery of those patients, reducing their risk of disabilities from traumatic events such as stroke.

“We made a promise to deliver a dedicated stroke unit for our patients and, with the building beginning to go up this week, we are confident the unit will be open to its first patients by January, making significant changes and improvement to their health outcomes,” he said.

Patients primarily from the central Norfolk area – encompassing Norwich, South and North Norfolk areas – will be admitted to the stroke rehabilitation unit from January.

Patients in the west of the county will continue to be referred to rehabilitation unit already established at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King’s Lynn.

The new stroke unit is part of NHS Norfolk’s investment into improvements in services for stroke patients, aimed at reducing the number of deaths and disabilities, and improving quality of life for patients.

Dr Ian Mack, Vice Chair of NHS Norfolk’s Clinical Executive and clinical lead on stroke explained that at any time in the UK one-in-five acute hospital beds and one-in-four long-term care beds are occupied by stroke patients. And outcomes for stroke patients in the UK were less good than in other European countries, with many enduring long hospital stays and suffering disability and mortality that could have been reduced.

“This unit is vital part in our ensuring these are not the facts for patients within NHS Norfolk. It will mean we will be able to offer an excellent and seamless range of health services for patients who have had a stroke, and will really make a difference as to how quickly and effectively they recover.

“It is also a central part in supporting the improvements we have already begun to deliver within our emergency hospital services, and those we are developing within the community,” he said.

When it opens, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Foundation Trust (NNUH) will manage the contract for the running of the new stroke unit, with Norfolk Community Health & Care (NHC&C) providing staffing on the ground.

The new, 24 general rehabilitation beds will replace a similar number of beds currently in use on an elderly medicine ward at the Julian Hospital site, Bowthorpe Road, which is owned by the Norfolk & Waveney Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.

It is hoped these will help ease winter pressures on acute beds, reducing delayed discharges for patients who are well enough to move on from an acute hospital bed, but perhaps not yet recovered enough to return home.

Innovative Modular Build

The combined 2,562m2 three-storey stroke and general rehab facility is being constructed using an innovative modular-build system which, for appropriate projects, can mean a quicker build timeline while still providing a top-spec purpose-built facility.

Comprising 84 pre-manufactured, steel-framed sections, constructed off-site, each section is currently being transported some 400 miles from Beverley, in Yorkshire via HGV to the Norwich Community Hospital site. Once there, they are being lifted onto the pre-cast concrete foundations and will be fitted together over the next few months.

The first modules arrived on site on Monday, where the foundations – held in place by concrete piles driven deep into the ground – are already laid down after the demolition of an old, defunct building, in preparatory ground works that began in February. 43 sections will be in place by Friday of this week (August 28).

Once all of the sections – manufactured complete with interior walls, ceilings, door frames, electrics, medical gas pipelines, and even under-floor heating systems in place – are lowered onto the foundations and fixed in place, final interior fittings and cladding the exterior of the building will begin.

Each rehabilitation ward consists of:

• 4 x four-bedded bays

• 6 x single-bed rooms

• 1 x two-bedded bay

• Bariatric rooms for obese patients

• All with en-suite bathrooms and all in a single-sex ward layout

In addition there will be a new therapeutic gymnasium, a therapeutic kitchen and purpose-built staff facilities.

The building project has been developed under the Procure 21 scheme – an NHS procurement (buying in) arrangement which encourages local NHS organisations to look to already approved local construction contractors.

Procure 21 also sees partnership working on any project, whereby commissioners, contractors, designers, architects and even clinicians and infection control experts work together from day one to develop the best possible environment for patients and staff.

Balfour Beatty has been appointed as design and construction managers, with Mansell acting as delivery partners, and Premiere Interlink providing the manufacture of the building sections. Local consultants include Ingleton Wood, architects, Clancy Engineering, Mott MadDonald Building Services, Davis Langdon as cost advisors and Anglia Support Partnership as project mangers.

Stroke: The Facts

Stroke is one of the UK’s biggest killers and a major threat to the nation’s health. More than 110,000 people suffer a stroke in the UK each year, of which around 25% die within in a month – making it the third largest cause of death.

The cost of caring and treating stroke patients is a massive cost to NHS funds, adding up to around £7billion a year.

A stroke is a medical emergency and anyone concerned they have suffered a stroke should attend hospital straight away, as limiting the damage from a stroke is very important to their chances of recovery.

When a patient is in hospital, doctors will be able to assess how the stroke has affected them and carry out tests to decide if the stroke is ischaemic (caused by a blood clot) or haemorrhagic (caused by bleeding). The treatment differs according to the type of stroke. It is important not to attempt to ‘self-treat’.

Wednesday 26th of August 2009 11:00:20 AM