Part of the construction is taking place inside Merit’s factory in Cramlington. Merit is manufacturing 650 pre-assembled modules (PAMs), weighing around 195 tonnes in total, and 17 Ultrapods weighing around 300 tonnes.
The pods will house all the mechanical, electrical and plumbing services. This will include power, lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and fire alarm systems. The PAMS, which will sit underneath the pods in the ceiling framework, will act as the distribution network for the services into the hospital building.
Merit chief executive Tony Wells said: “We have been working closely with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and Northumbria Healthcare Facilities Management (NHFM) to develop a design that is zero carbon emissions, has built-in infection control and is technically enabled for the future of health care. This is 21st century construction in action. It is always exciting to reach important milestones in a project of this size and scale, and this is certainly one of them.”
Merit Health project manager Mark Brough added: “A very special part of the project will be when the PAMs and pods are transported to site. It is quite a spectacle to see.”
Originally built in 1874, the current Berwick infirmary is no longer fir for purpose. The new hospital will provide all the same services and also house Well Close Medical Group’s general practice surgery. The new hospital should be ready by the end of 2024.
Once the main build is complete, the remaining old hospital buildings will be demolished – except for a clock tower. A new car park and access roads will then be built, and landscaping completed.