Royal main entrance refit gets underway

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THE £1.6 million plus scheme to refit Chesterfield Royal Hospital’s main entrance gets underway on Sunday, 30th October 2011 - when contractors begin to set up their site base.

Four months ago a major fire destroyed most of the Royal’s main entrance facilities – including the convenience store, reception desk and café. Work behind the scenes since has seen demolition undertaken, new infrastructures starting to be put in place and a fresh design agreed to give the whole area a re-style.

Tenders for the prestigious project have been assessed – and the trust has placed a contract with Styles and Wood – who have worked for major household names - from high street stores and supermarkets, to the banking and commercial sectors.

Chief Executive for the Royal, Eric Morton, said: “It’s hard to believe that since the end of June - and from such devastation - we are now at this stage.

“For our patients and staff it’s a positive step towards ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’. People have been extremely understanding - and whilst we appreciate that over the coming months there will undoubtedly be more noise and some disruption, it’s great to know that we are on the way to creating an even better front entrance facility – with a new format and new look.”

The trust has put itself in the hands of an experienced team who are committed to providing excellent services. Richard Hall, Head of Public Sector at Styles and Wood, said: “We are registered with the Considerate Contractors Scheme which promotes reducing inconvenience, protecting the environment, meeting high safety standards; and giving care and consideration to the community (in this case the hospital) you are working within. We are sensitive to the hospital’s needs – and are looking forward to creating the new main entrance over the few months.”

Architects for the project – the Manser Practice – worked with the hospital in 2007 when the main entrance was first re-developed. This time around they have taken feedback from patients, staff and visitors – and created a design that takes their views into account.

Director at Manser, Guy Barlow, said: “The fire destroyed so many of the main entrance’s key elements that it was clear we needed to start with a blank piece of paper. The principles of the scheme remain the same – but we have listened to views and opinions about what functioned well – and what didn’t. It’s given us an opportunity to work with those that use the entrance day after day and they’ve had real input in to the final design.”

In fact, the restyle elements of the scheme are focussed on comments made by patients, visitors and staff since the entrance opened in November 2008. This time around the reception desk will be smaller, there will be an electronic queuing system, a better service for patients with disabilities, more privacy for those booking in electronically and greater clarity about where facilities (such as the café) start and finish . The size of the convenience store will increase; there will be an information point and an area where self-help groups and charities can promote what they do. The seating area by the patient transport desk will be ‘foldaway’ – so patients in wheelchairs can also sit comfortably to chat with others – or to watch TV – while they wait for their transport.

The colour scheme will again centre on grey, black, red and white - but with some big differences. The floor and ceiling for example will be lighter and brighter – to resolve some of the concerns around ‘dark areas’.

Despite all the changes to the design, one of the biggest pieces of work will be installing a sprinkler system – something that wasn’t in place before the fire happened. Whilst the main entrance met all fire safety and planning regulations when it was signed off in 2007, this time around sprinklers will be an additional extra. The entrance will also have another firewall with two sets of entrance doors - and solid fire shutters to close off the shop.

“At the time we designed the main entrance we met all legislative requirements – and we still would,” said Mr Morton. “But we’ve worked closely with Derbyshire Fire and Rescue and the Borough Council’s building control – and there’s a view that we need to make more changes this time around.

“We always build to the highest standard that’s recommended and we’re taking that advice on board. We’ll do all we can to make sure we protect the building effectively.”

The cost of the building scheme will be met through the hospital’s insurance policy. Loss adjustors continue to work with the Royal to assess the overall cost of the fire, which not only takes in to account the cost of repairing the damage, but also lost revenue – including income lost from patient and visitor car parking (the fire wiped out the barrier system’s electronics) and the cafe.

The main entrance scheme is expected to be completed by late Spring 2012.