New facility brings care closer to the community
Welwyn Garden City celebrated the opening of its new £30m hospital in May this year, securing the future of health and wellbeing services close to home for local residents.
Built on a site adjacent to the old district general hospital, the New QEII Hospital is one of a new generation of local medical facilities providing key services at the heart of communities.
The project was developed with Community Health Partnerships (CHP) as the 40% public investor, and LIFT Company Assemble Community Partnerships - a PPP between CHP and Guildhouse. Balfour Beatty was contracted to build, and CHP has now assumed the role of head tenant with overall responsibility for the management of the property.
The development includes a no-appointment urgent care centre with a drop-off point right outside the front door, which is able to deal with fractures and broken bones, burns and scalds, muscle and joint injuries, cuts and minor head or eye injuries. As well as this crucial facility, which relieves pressure on surrounding A&E units, the hospital also houses:
Eugene Prinsloo, head of infrastructure development at CHP, said: “NHS reform, and the Five Year Forward View’s emphasis on integration and efficiency have put the spotlight on improving the way we design and use the health estate. Projects like the New QEII Hospital are showing just how this can be achieved in a way that benefits patients, providers and the public purse.”
The New QEII’s design responds to the Garden City context of Welwyn by integrating gardens and building and through the use of materials including timber, render, glass and hung tiles, as well as a pitched roof line. The external landscaping flows under the colonnaded entrance and through the foyer into a large courtyard garden, creating a sense of openness, and all the waiting areas are adjacent to the central courtyard, providing natural light and pleasant views.
As well as its aesthetic qualities, the design is functional and achieves high environmental and energy-efficiency standards, including a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating. A green roof has been created to reduce solar gain and encourage biodiversity, while also being able to cope well with heavy rainfall. Concrete ceilings help to keep the building cooler, and highly insulated external walls reduce the energy required for heating, while photovoltaic panels, solar thermal water heating and air source heat pumps all contribute to the building’s use of renewable energy. The window design combines ventilation and security, allowing plenty of fresh air to circulate.
Dr Hari Pathmanathan, a local GP and chairman of East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, which commissioned the building, has been involved in the project’s development for several years:
“The opportunity to design a hospital building and its services around the needs of our patients, now and in years to come, is a huge privilege. The building itself is really impressive, but more importantly, the services it provides will improve the quality of care for my patients and many thousands of others every year.”
The centre was opened in phases to ensure a smooth launch. The urgent care centre welcomed its first patients on 17 May, and other services moved in and became operational over the following weeks.