The NEC-procured Proton Beam Therapy Centre at The Christie cancer hospital in Manchester, UK is the first of its kind in the UK. Completed in October 2018, the £125 million state-of-the-art centre provides proton beam radiotherapy that can target certain cancers very precisely and without side-effects.
Working through the UK government’s NEC-based Procure 21+ construction procurement framework (now Procure 22), The Christie NHS Foundation Trust engaged Interserve as its principal supply chain partner on an early-contractor-involvement basis under an NEC3 Engineering and Construction Contract Option C (target contract with activity schedule) in March 2014.
Interserve’s supply chain partners were architect HKS, engineer Arup and project manager Mace, each of which was contracted under an NEC3 Professional Services Contract (PSC). Preferred supplier for the £40 million of proton beam equipment – including a 90t super-conducting cyclotron and three 360° treatment units − was Varian in Germany, which was engaged under an NEC3 Supply Contract.
The project involved building a 15,000m2, five-storey, highly serviced building on a constrained site in a live hospital environment. Reinforced concrete walls up to 6m thick were needed to contain radiation around the proton beam equipment, requiring a total of 48,000t of concrete, while the total length of conduits for supporting electrical, mechanical and plumbing services was over 9km.
The building also includes a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerised tomography (CT) facilities, a large reception area, consultation rooms, planning and support accommodation, space for a fourth treatment unit, an electricity sub-station and a heat reclamation plant. Despite the building’s high energy demand, it achieved a Breeam ‘excellent’ environmental rating.
Following a year of design development and optimisation, work started on site in July 2015 and the project was delivered on time and £2 million under budget in October 2018. It won the Constructing Excellence Building Project of the Year Award in November and the first of up to 750 patients a year was treated in December.
Jason Dawson, director of capital, estates and facilities of The Christie NHS Foundation Trust said on completion of the contract, ‘We are delighted to be able to offer this life-changing treatment to patients. The delivery of this facility using NEC contracts has been one of the most complex and precise projects within the NHS. ‘We identified very early in the project that we needed a construction partner that could work alongside our team. The NEC contractual obligation for parties to collaborate “in a spirt of mutual trust and co-operation” integrated with Interserve's technical expertise and energy to solve problems is one of the key reasons we completed on time.’
Dawson said he is a firm advocate of the NEC-based Procure 21+ framework. ‘Its benefits – clearly seen on this project – included early engagement and speed to site, effective risk management and cost control, plus access to a select band of contractor with specific expertise.
‘The NEC early warning process ensured that all issues which might have impacted on the project outcome, such as late design information from equipment suppliers, were identified and mitigated at the outset. The open-book approach of ECC Option C also meant we had complete transparency of costs and programme throughout the project.’
Dawson adds that building information modelling (BIM) played a crucial role in the design of the centre. ‘Working under NEC PSC contracts, the design team produced an integrated, federated design model to give a four-dimensional representation of the project. This was used to coordinate equipment designs and for clash detection, creating savings of around £1.95 million. It was also the used to validate radiation protection, the first time this has been done in the UK.’
Benefits of using NEC
- NEC flexibility enabled early engagement with supply chain and extensive use of building information modelling to develop and optimise design before construction started.
- NEC contractual obligation for parties to work ‘in a spirt of mutual trust and co-operation’ helped to ensure a highly collaborative approach by the project team, resulting in completion on time and £2 million under budget.
- NEC early warning process ensured that all issues which might have impacted on the project outcome, such as late design information from equipment suppliers, were identified and mitigated at the outset.
- The open-book format of ECC Option C provided the client with complete transparency of costs and programme throughout the project.