Peterborough City Hospital: The big move begins

An aerial view of the new Peterborough City Hospital site in Bretton, Peterborough, taken in May 2010.
An aerial view of the new Peterborough City Hospital site in Bretton, Peterborough, taken in May 2010.
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It is all systems go for health bosses as the transfer of Peterborough’s hospital services to the city’s new £289 million super hospital begins.

In what health chiefs call the greatest logistical operation in the city’s history, Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Trust yesterday started the arduous process of moving its 3,500 staff and thousands of pieces of equipment to Peterborough City Hospital in Bretton.

And, in what will be a landmark moment in the history of healthcare for the city, the first patients will take up residence in the new building on Monday.

A total of 60 trust staff have acted as relocation leaders over the last year to prepare their colleagues at the Edith Cavell Hospital and Peterborough District Hospital for the move.

They carried out the work alongside their usual duties until September, when they focused full-time on the impending transfer.

Angela Broekhuizen, associate director of projects at the trust, has overseen the creation of the super hospital and is monitoring the transfer of services.

She said the city, and potentially the country, may not see anything built on such a scale again.

She said: “This is the most significant operation I have ever been a part of and it is likely to be the operation of a lifetime, as not many more new hospital buildings are likely to open any time soon.

“You can imagine the enormity of the task before us. Normally when moving house you have to get eight rooms or so ready, but we have 4,000 rooms to move into. It is a massive feat and will be the pinnacle of my career.

“I don’t think we’ve ever seen a move on this scale in the Greater Peterborough area before.”

There has been a constant stream of deliveries to the new site since the keys were handed over by Brookfield Construction to the trust on October 1.

As well taking delivery of hundreds of chairs for waiting rooms and more than 600 beds for the hospital’s 13 wards, medical engineers have also had to be on site to check that each piece of state-of-the-art equipment works correctly.

The first arrivals at the hospital yesterday were mostly administrative staff, such as switchboard workers and the IT department, with management staff set to be moving today along with some pharmacy services.

Although the hospital will not have its official opening ceremony until next year, it will open its doors to patients from Monday.

The first patients will arrive as clinical and out-patient services are transferred from the Edith Cavell site nearby in Bretton.

This shift is due to be completed by November 17.

Then begins the move from Thorpe Road for Peterborough District Hospital (PDH) staff and patients.

At 2am on December 3, Peterborough City Hospital will officially take over accident and emergency services from PDH.

The maternity unit, also at Thorpe Road, will shut its doors there on November 30 with the last women in established labour being admitted before 9am. After that point, women will be sent to the new Women and Children’s Unit at Peterborough City Hospital.

The transfer of all services is set to be complete by December 7.

The trust says high level plans were drawn up over many months to ensure patients are unaffected by the move and hospital can function fully.

Mrs Broekhuizen said that around 10 delivery vans have been employed, creating a regular stream of vehicles to and from the PCH site.

She also paid tribute to contractors Brookfield for having the hospital ready ahead of schedule, as well as praising staff assisting with the move.

She said: “The move is a whole team effort. There are still Brookfield staff on site helping with the move.”

Mike Sharples, project manager for Brookfield, said a huge amount of expertise was required to pull off the build.

He said: “A wide variety of skills, were required to overcome the day to day problems as well as enabling the installation of delicate equipment.”

He said the team were thrilled that the project was ahead of schedule, adding: “This is a tremendous result and a testament to the great teamwork of all those involved. I would like to thank all the members of staff at the trust who worked with us on the project.

“Without their positive attitudes, dedication and hard work, completion of the hospital would have been more difficult, they have done a fabulous job on behalf of Peterborough.”

It took 1.4 million man hours to create the hospital, which has 782 miles of cabling, 16 miles of drainage, 85,000 sq m of flooring and will serve a population of 500,000.