The Cheshire and Merseyside Surgical Centre is one of the new generation of operating theatres developed solely to treat patients awaiting elective or planned surgery and help clear the patient backlog exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19. The first phase of the Centre – one of the first projects financed under the NHS England £700 million national funding made available through the Targeted Investment Fund to support schemes that promote recovery from the pandemic – includes two operating theatres, 12 patient recovery bays, and a plant equipment room containing air-handling units and electrical supply panels.
Pre-manufactured steel-framed building sections were craned onto the site alongside existing theatres at Clatterbridge Hospital, and assembled by the MTX team, who installed exterior cladding, interior finishes, and floor screeds. MTX then fitted out the theatre complex, including equipping the theatres, installing all mechanical, electrical, and plumbing elements, and commissioning a plant room containing air-handling units and electrical supply panels.
The site sub-structure was prepared while the building sections were being manufactured off site to precise specifications under factory conditions. MTX says MMC can reduce build times by over 50%, cut waste by up to 60%, and ‘enable faster, more-cost effective, and low carbon delivery of high-quality buildings fully compliant with latest healthcare standards’.
The Centre’s creation has created a ‘cold site’ capacity, with the new theatres located away from the main busy acute hospital at Arrowe Park to provide enhanced infection prevention and control. The new theatre strategy is designed to reduce same-day cancellations of surgery.
Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust was allocated £10.6 million of funding earlier in 2022 from NHS England via Cheshire and Merseyside’s Integrated Care System to build the two new operating theatres. Last September further funding of £14.95 m was announced to build two further theatres as part of Phase Two of the project, which will also be delivered by MTX.
Dr Nikki Stevenson, Medical director and Deputy CEO at Wirral University Teaching Hospital, commented: “I’m delighted that we have opened the centre ahead of winter, and we have already treated a number of patients from across the region who required elective surgery. The centre will enable us to treat many more patients, especially when the second phase is complete. It will make a huge difference to those across the region who have unfortunately been waiting for surgery, and will greatly improve patient experience.”
The second phase of the Cheshire and Merseyside Surgical Centre will consist of two more operating theatres, a further six recovery bays, ancillary staff areas and changing facilities for theatre staff, and an upper storey plant equipment enclosure. Theatres three and four are expected to open next year, and once both phases are complete the new Surgical Centre will treat around 6,000 patients each year from across Cheshire and Merseyside.
Groundworks are under way to accept the new building modules currently being constructed off site, and due to arrive early in 2023. Phase 2 is also a single-storey construction carefully designed to ‘wrap round’ and integrate with the first phase to make the two units a coherent single building.
MTX MD, David Hartley, said: “We are proud to be working with Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to create this exciting new facility. Expertise in MMC enables us to quickly and cost-effectively deliver high-quality new hospital facilities specifically engineered for medical use, with ventilation systems designed to optimise clean air flow and meet clinical needs.”
Rowan Pritchard-Jones, Medical director for NHS Cheshire and Merseyside, added: “The opening of Cheshire and Merseyside Surgical Centre is fantastic news. There has been significant investment in these theatres, which are now providing quicker access to surgery and outpatients procedures for thousands of patients – reducing waiting lists, improving patient experience and, most importantly, improving people’s outcomes.”