Nightingale Hospital Birmingham Case Study Colin Hamilton

In their own words: Colin Hamilton, Strategic Account Director, on his experiences building the new NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham

Colin Hamilton, who lives in Northampton, is a Strategic Account Director at Interserve Construction. He has been working for the past two weeks to deliver the new NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham.

As the principal contractor, Interserve Construction delivered the first phase of the hospital in just two weeks on behalf of the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust. More than 400 employees and contractors and 60 Gurkhas from the British Army worked more than 86,000 construction hours on the project.

Here, Colin shares his experiences of working on delivering the new NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham.

“Things don’t tend to move quickly in construction. Strategies are devised, options are contemplated, business cases are considered, and decisions are… measured.

“All that changed on 30th March 2020 when the Interserve team set foot on-site at Birmingham’s NEC to build one the UK’s largest hospitals in less than two weeks. 2,000,000 square feet of floor space, 64 miles of electrical cable, 400 employees working over 86,000 hours, sometimes 16 hours a day – astonishing.

“This incredible journey started for me on the previous Friday, when on a call with the Department of Health & Social Care we learnt that at least three surge sites would be built.

“After some debate and discussion about which contractors would be best placed to deliver these schemes, I threw Interserve Construction’s hat into the ring. The next morning, I was told we had been awarded the largest of the surge sites - up to 4,000 beds at Birmingham’s NEC.

“A flurry of emails and hastily convened conference calls over the weekend resulted in the formation of a formidable team of construction professionals from our West Midlands office, plus key suppliers and designers. All of them were ready to visit the site on a Monday morning to start working on this enormous task.

“I have worked every day since Friday’s conference call as Interserve’s representative in the DHSC Project Management Office (PMO). I oversee all of the NHS surge sites and provide the interface between individual sites and the NHS. Put simply, my job is to try and solve some of the logistical problems that would otherwise slow down the pace of delivery.

“I am also leading the PMO’s design team, which is developing a range of shared information – including a ‘lessons learnt’ log, specification tracker and a derogations schedules – which will help to inform and guide future projects, including the most recent NHS sites at Harrogate, Bristol, Exeter and Sunderland.

“Generating useful information, finding solutions and providing feedback up the chain of command has been non-stop. But I am so pleased to be involved in an important and monumental undertaking, the likes of which I have never seen in my 31 years at Interserve.

“The thanks I received on behalf of Interserve from the NHS’s Simon Corben made me very proud to be part of the delivery team. In his speech at the opening ceremony, the Duke of Cambridge paid tribute to the teamwork, collaboration and ‘herculean effort’ of everyone involved. Those attributes have been the cornerstone of this project and I’m pleased I was able to play a part. Supporting the NHS at a time of national crisis and helping Interserve to show what can be achieved when things really do need to move quickly has been one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences of my career”.