On the 3rd of April, our client, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust was asked by NHS England to host the new hospital being built for Covid-19 patients at the Harrogate Convention Centre.

Our experience in delivering the unique network architecture needed to support a Nightingale facility, coupled with our extensive heritage of architecting large-scale IT infrastructure projects for many Trusts across England, meant that we were a great fit to help.

We are extremely proud to have been asked to work on another Nightingale hospital. Our expertise working on this type of mission-critical, time-sensitive and highly pressurised project made Block a safe pair of hands for delivery of this new digital hospital. It’s a great privilege to be involved.” Marc Chang, CEO at Block.

The Hospital at the Harrogate Convention Centre is being hosted by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, with the support of Harrogate & District NHS Foundation Trust and Trusts from across Yorkshire and Humber. Our relationship with Leeds Teaching Hospitals is long-standing having delivered a number of transformative projects over several years. To support the Trusts with this exceptional undertaking, we mobilised a dedicated team of technical experts, who have been working every day around the clock since Wednesday 3rd of April to stand up the IT infrastructure at the hospital.

Steve Russell, Chief Executive, NHS Nightingale Hospital Yorkshire and The Humber and Chief Executive, Harrogate District NHS Foundation Trust, said:

This new NHS Nightingale Hospital – like the others across the country – is an extraordinary achievement and provides local people and staff with the reassurance that there will be additional beds available if they are required. It is a vital insurance policy, which we hope will not be needed.”

The networking needs of a hospital are numerous and complex. Medical equipment, CT scanners, oxygen canisters, clinician communications, video consultation capability, and wi-fi-enabled sensors are just some of the use cases to support. Many devices feed data into back-end applications that provide clinical staff with essential records.

For Block, the project needed us to balance the speed of provisioning a large IT infrastructure with the requirements and nuances of an NHS digital hospital that will be operating 24/7, whilst ensuring it can be supported effectively afterwards. 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.

These challenges were overcome by working in true partnership with the hospital’s IT and clinical leads. We took a highly collaborative and communicative approach, sharing what we had learned from the London site 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 the facility.

”The Block team were invaluable in setting up the Nightingale Hospital Yorkshire and the Humber infrastructure.  Designing a network in days that would support our evolving, complex needs was a collaborative undertaking. Block has been a true NHS partner.” Cindy Fedell, Chief Digital and Information Officer at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

If anyone is starting to plan a network for a Nightingale style hospital and needs any help or advice, we have produced design guidelines which include all the lessons we have learned over the past few weeks. We’re happy to share for free, it will save you time. Just email covidresponse@block.co.uk

Block & Yorkshire and the Humber Nightingale