Final department moves to make way for new 11-storey hospital building

A visualisation of the Royal Sussex County Hospital's new entrance when Stage 1 of the 3Ts development is complete in 2020
A visualisation of the Royal Sussex County Hospital's new entrance when Stage 1 of the 3Ts development is complete in 2020

The £468 million redevelopment of Brighton’s hospital has reached a major milestone, as the final department has moved to make way for a new 11-storey building.

Royal Sussex County Hospital’s 3Ts project - so called for the hospital’s focus on teaching, trauma and tertiary care - will replace all the buildings on the front of the main hospital site.

Members of the Radiopharmacy Team receive a certificate to commemorate their move

Members of the Radiopharmacy Team receive a certificate to commemorate their move

The work, which began in January last year, will happen in three stages and will take nine years to complete.

The recent move of the Radiopharmacy team is the culmination of a two year ‘decant programme’ - to move departments to new sites at the hospital - and this is the final area to be cleared before the Stage 1 Building is built.

The Stage 1 construction area takes up most of the south east quarter of the hospital site. The buildings at the back of the construction area have already been removed and earthworks have started. The buildings at the front of the construction site are now empty but still have to be removed.

Duane Passman, 3Ts project director, said: “Two years sounds like a long time, but this is a large, acute, teaching hospital. We, as a Trust, are handing over a quarter of the hospital site, having ensured that the clinical services that had to move are still on site in improved accommodation. When you realise the complexities involved suddenly two years seems a more reasonable time scale. In terms of floor area we have moved enough people and services to completely fill eight floors of the Thomas Kemp Tower.”

Looking across the Stage 1 construction site from the north

Looking across the Stage 1 construction site from the north

The departments that have relocated from the construction area have been moved to two temporary buildings: The Courtyard Building, which stands next to the Thomas Kemp Tower, is the new home for the wards from the Jubilee Building, and The Hanbury Building at the front of the site, which now accommodates outpatient services that needed to relocate. This includes the members of the Radiopharmacy Team that moved this week.

Robert Brown, 3Ts decant programme manager, said: “During the decant programme hundreds of members of staff and dozens of services have moved. We are talking about the final move to clear the site today but every one of those decant moves was as important as this one. Without the support and engagement of our staff this simply could not have happened.”

Mr Passman said: “Looking across the Stage 1 site at the moment you get a real sense of the progress that is being made. The earthworks are preparing the site for the piling that will start in the next few months. The site slopes so there have to be flat areas, called piling mats, where the equipment can stand to work safely. We will be using screw rather than driven piles to minimise the disturbance to our patients, staff and neighbours.”

The piling works are required to secure the sides of the site before excavation can begin. The entire Stage 1 area will have to be excavated to a depth of approximately two and half storeys, measuring from the front of the site.

The helipad under construction at the Royal Sussex County Hospital (Photograp: Eddie Mitchell)

The helipad under construction at the Royal Sussex County Hospital (Photograp: Eddie Mitchell)

Gary Speirs, the 3Ts main scheme project manager, said: “The excavations have to take place so that the foundations of the building and the machinery required to run it can be put in place. Most importantly though, from the perspective of our patients and visitors, it will include an underground car park. We get asked about car parking by the public more than anything else. It is really nice to be able to say, ‘yes we can help.’”

The Latilla and Jubilee buildings, the two largest structures at the front of the site, will be taken down over the next two months. Once they are removed there will be a clear view from the front of the construction site on the border with Eastern Road all the way to the Thomas Kemp Tower and the Children’s Hospital that mark the back of the site.

“I think it is difficult for people to properly understand the scale of the redevelopment until they see the site clearly,” said Mr Passman.

“We’ve done the best we can with images and site maps to help everyone understand what will happen but nothing will beat seeing it in person to fully appreciate the scale of the project. With the whole site available the speed of change will definitely increase. There’s still plenty of work to be done before Stage 1 opens in 2020 but now, perhaps for the first time, the redevelopment is a reality that’s visible to all.”

The 11-storey Stage 1 Building will be the larger of the two new buildings in the redevelopment. It will be the new main entrance to the hospital and house a mixture of outpatient, general inpatient and specialist inpatient services including Neurosciences, Intensive Care and the Stroke Unit.

Preparatory earth and foundation works for the building will continue into 2018. The building’s structure, much of which is being constructed off site, will take around 18 months to complete. The rest of the construction time into 2020 will be used for the specialist fit out of the building.

When the 3Ts development is finished, there will be two new clinical buildings covering the front half of the hospital site. More than 40 wards and departments will move into the new buildings.

3Ts development timeline

Stage 1: Jan 2016 to summer 2020

The Stage 1 Building will be built on the south east quarter of the hospital. It will replace the wards and departments of the Barry Building which is the oldest inpatient ward block in England. It opened its doors 20 years before Florence Nightingale started nursing. At the same time a helideck will be constructed on the top of the Thomas Kemp Tower. This will be used to move the most severely injured and unwell patients.

Stage 2: summer 2020 to summer 2023

The Stage 2 Building will take up the south west quarter of the site. It will house the new and expanded Sussex Cancer Centre.

Stage 3: summer 2023 to summer 2024

The third stage will be a new delivery and service area to improve site management.

For more information on the 3Ts development, click: here.