At the start of April, North Bristol NHS Trust was asked by NHS England to host the new NHS Nightingale hospital being built at the University of the West of England’s (UWE Bristol) Frenchay campus. Having helped to deliver the IT infrastructure at Nightingale London, the Block team mobilised once again to support the NHS.

The challenge was to ensure we had the right people, with the right skills on site quickly. With our experience and expertise of building complex networks in challenging health settings, we were able to rapidly assemble a team, even with many of our staff already on site at NHS Nightingale Hospital Yorkshire and The Humber in Harrogate. The lessons learned here proved invaluable in getting this project turned around in such a tight timescale.

Based at UWE Bristol’s Exhibition and Conference Centre, the NHS Nightingale Hospital Bristol is hosted by North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) and staffed by people from many NHS organisations across the south west as well as volunteers. It will provide up to 300 intensive care beds for people with COVID-19, if local services need them.

Block is proud to be supporting the NHS Nightingale Hospital Bristol, building on an existing relationship with NBT that has seen Block deliver numerous transformative projects, most recently the installation of a new IT network for the trust. To support this latest momentous undertaking, we mobilised a dedicated team of technical experts, who have been working around the clock daily since Monday April 6th to set up the IT infrastructure at the Nightingale hospital.

Marie-Noelle Orzel, Chief Officer, NHS Nightingale Hospital Bristol, said: “Like the others across the country, our hospital is an extraordinary achievement and testament to the hard work of all those involved from the NHS staff, to the builders, carpenters and architects, the armed forces, our university hosts and everyone else. Each and every person has played their part to get us to where we are today – hoping that we will not be needed, but ready to care with compassion, if and when we are needed.

For Block, the challenge was to build out the appropriate physical and system level resilience that would provide a robust infrastructure suitable for an acute care environment. “The project required us to effectively support NBT’s IT Team with multiple initiatives, all with different requirements, including clinical requests from radiographers, pathologists and pharmacists, as well as working with all of the different trades and contractors. Understanding and capturing those requirements quickly and in a structured way was quite a challenge, our teams had to make a lot of decisions very quickly, establishing the critical path within each environment,” explains Marc Chang, CEO at Block.

These challenges were overcome by forming a strong partnership with the NHS and other organisations on site. We took a highly collaborative and communicative approach, sharing learnings from elsewhere and helping to re-shape the thinking around what was possible, consequently designing a solution that would best fit the initial and ongoing operational requirements of this facility.

It’s been a true privilege to support the NHS in achieving so much in such a short timeframe. Seeing something go from a shell to a finished hospital complete with all of the infrastructure to support modern day digital healthcare is incredibly rewarding,” says Marc Chang.

Neil Darvill, IT Director for North Bristol NHS Trust, and for the Nightingale Bristol project, said, “setting up a highly-specialised healthcare facility in just weeks is an enormous achievement and testament to the efforts of all involved including Block. The fact that the Nightingale Bristol is digitally-enabled and integrated into our other regional healthcare networks is a particular source of pride, and I’d like to thank Block for showing the same energy and commitment as they’ve brought to previous transformation projects with us.”

The NHS Nightingale Hospital Bristol was officially opened on Monday 27 April by His Royal Highness, the Earl of Wessex.