The Harbour is a new 154-bed mental health hospital situated just outside Blackpool, UK. The £39.5 million scheme was delivered for Lancashire NHS Foundation Trust, working in a public-private partnership with Red Rose Corporate Services, through the Department of Health’s NEC-based Procure 21+ framework.
The new, mainly single-storey, facility brings several services together under one roof. It provides specialist dementia, advanced care, functional acute and psychiatric intensive care wards plus a Mental Health Act section 136 suite, therapy hub and community team base. The services are situated along a main ‘street’ that that links living, sleeping, activity and therapy areas with reception and other shared spaces to create a real community feel. Administrative services are located at first floor level.
Contractor Vinci Construction UK, operating as Integrated Healthcare Projects, was engaged to design and build the hospital under an NEC3 Engineering and Construction Contract (ECC) Option C (target contract with activity schedule). Work started on site in March 2013 and was completed on time and budget in November 2014. The project was highly commended in the 2016 NEC Large Project of the Award.
Working in the NEC ‘spirt of mutual trust and cooperation’, the employer and contractor collaborated from the outset to drive down costs while ensuring quality standards were maintained. The contractor and its Procure 21+ supply chain partners conducted a full design review of the scheme to ensure maximum operational efficiency.
As a result of its early engagement, the team was able to increase capacity by 11 beds and reduce internal floor area by 10%, reducing both capital and operating costs. An off-site bedroom mock-up was also built which, through close collaboration between the employer’s clinicians and the supply chain, resulted in an iterative solution that met all clinical requirements. Integrating suppliers into the early engagement process also reduced the number of pod moulds required for bedrooms from the initially estimated 14 to five.
Vinci regional director, John Roberts says, ‘To ensure risk management was fully integrated throughout the supply chain, all our supply chain partners were engaged on back-to-back NEC contracts.’ The NEC3 Professional Services Contract Option C (target contract) was used for designers and the NEC3 Engineering and Construction Subcontract Option B (priced subcontract with bill of quantities) or C (target subcontract with activity schedule) was used for specialist subcontractors.
Roberts says the NEC pain/gain share mechanisms also incentivised innovation throughout the construction process to drive down costs. ‘For example, during the major earthworks phase the orientation and position of the building footprint were reconfigured on site, resulting in a cost saving over £500,000 and a reduction of 4 weeks from the programme. The superstructure construction was also changed from steel frame to load-bearing masonry and steel beams, which yielded a further significant cost saving.’
According to Roberts, the collaboration and innovation engendered by NEC together with design optimisation and off-site manufacturing resulting in the overall scheme cost being reduced by £5 million. ‘The NEC process of early warnings and compensation events also ensured that the final account was in effect agreed prior to contract completion.’ A total of 142 compensation events were agreed during the project.
Alistair Rose, the employer’s project director, said on completion of the contract, ‘It has been a pleasure working with the construction team on the development of The Harbour and the Trust couldn’t be happier with the results. The contractors have been fantastic through all stages of the build and it’s great to be able to see our vision come to life.’
Benefits of using NEC
- Early engagement and the collaborative nature of NEC helped the supply team optimise the design, resulting in 11 extra beds, a 10% reduction in floor area and reduction in overall capital and operating costs
- NEC pain/gain mechanisms encouraged innovation throughout the design and construction stages, resulting in an overall cost saving of £5 million
- NEC early warning and compensation event processes enabled the final account to be agreed prior to contract completion
- Back-to-back NEC contracts ensure effective risk management throughout the supply chain