21st September 2023

Diagnosis : Perega

Community Diagnostic Centres (CDCs) have grown to become one of the most important frontline healthcare assets. Designed to provide patients with swift access to diagnostic healthcare, they eliminate the need to navigate a busy hospital environment, freeing up pressure on these over-stretched facilities.

With a long history and well-known reputation for delivering exceptional structural and civil consultancy, our engineers recently collaborated with a handful of NHS Trusts to establish CDCs across East London, including Barking Community Hospital, Mile End Hospital and Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup.

Built using a blend of traditional and modern methods of construction (MMC), harnessing the latest modular techniques, these units are set to provide thousands of extra procedures a year. Our contribution to these projects comprised two main roles: orchestrating tenders for specialist modular building construction, and then delivering full design services.

From the outset, we provided consultancy to support the procurement and placement of the modular buildings, circumventing challenges such as clashes with below-ground drainage by relocating the proposed building location to reduce costs and disruption. This was particularly important on the Barking site, where it ensured a seamless construction journey.

On Queen Mary’s and Mile End Hospitals, our team was tasked with production of the full design of the CDCs, both currently underway and requiring bespoke designs to suit existing site constraints and specific project requirements.

The design and co-ordination of each CDC is not without issues. For example, on the Mile End site, existing buried structures, service ducts, and downstand beams presented logistical difficulties. This did not deter the teams, which meticulously planned the building’s ductwork to work within and around the existing structure avoiding unnecessary structural alterations.

Another requirement, now typical of many healthcare projects, was the reduction of carbon emissions. This saw our engineers provide assistance to most of the Trusts, presenting a range of design options to achieve the much-sought-after BREEAM certification.

As specialist diagnostic and treatment units, CDC specification is incredibly nuanced due to the specialist equipment used in them. Floor vibrations for ground mounted equipment needs to be assessed, and the ceiling deflections carefully considered for ceiling mounted equipment.

Clinical spaces require high volumes of air to be extracted and replaced with fresh air. This requires a lot of plant such as air handling units, chillers, and heat pumps. These require plant areas to be constructed or existing buildings strengthened to support the new plant.

According to Associate Sam Coleman, who is overseeing the Mile End and Queen Mary’s Hospital projects, “These new community diagnostic centres serve as a comprehensive, one-stop solution for the local community. Our central focus throughout these projects has been engineering cutting-edge facilities that prioritise faster diagnoses and better healthcare access for people. Each site is unique and has really tested the skill and ingenuity of the engineers and project teams involved.”

The Queen Mary’s Hospital and Mile End CDC units are currently being designed, and Barking Community Hospital is set to open in early 2024.

For more information on Perega’s award-winning structural and civil engineering for healthcare, click here.