2018 Study Tour to Northern Ireland

Architects for Health Study Tour – Northern Ireland

4-6 July, 2018
Health Infrastructure for the NHS in Northern Ireland has followed a distinctive path from the rest of the UK. Under the control of the Northern Ireland Department of Health for much of the last 30 years, buildings have been commissioned placing a high value on quality and local partnerships. As a result, the province has some of the best recent health buildings developed to provide NHS services. The Architects for Health 2018 study tour organised with the generous support of sponsors Axis Entrance Systems and contractors, McLaughlin & Harvey Construction visited a range of Acute, Sub-acute and Community Health Facilities.

Welcome and Introduction
HLM Architects hosted the welcome event at their central Belfast office. As the 21 members of the Study Tour gathered there was time for networking in a convivial setting with wine and food. The event was kicked off by John Cole, who had been a huge support in helping arrange some of the visits. John’s presentation gave a wide-ranging overview of his time as head of Northern Ireland Health Estates, the objectives and what they had achieved. This focussed minds and provided an excellent starting point for the tour.

Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex, Western Health & Social Care Trust
The first full day commenced with a visit to Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex in the west of the province. Opened in 2017, the new £105m complex reprovides services from the old Tyrone County Hospital bringing together GP’s, Urgent Care and a range of Treatment Services with 40 step up/down beds. We were met by Andrew Murray and Paul Crowe of Todd Architects and Donna McFarland of the Western Trust who have an overview of the development and features of the impressive new development. The party split into smaller groups to tour the building. Inevitable with such an interesting building, the visit overran and we were late for the lunch hosted by McLaughlin and Harvey at Omagh Golf Course.

The South West Acute Hospital, Enniskillen. Western Health & Social Care Trust
The South West Acute Hospital opened its doors to patients on 21 June 2012. The new PFI Hospital re-provided services from the old Erne Hospital and is one of the most attractive large hospitals in the UK in a terrific lakeside setting. The new hospital has up to 210 in-patient beds and 22 day-case beds. The hospital delivers a full range of acute services for the south west of the province, a largely rural population where road travel times limit access. We were met by Anita McConnell of the Western Health & Social Care Trust who have polished overview of the history of the development of which staff are clearly proud. Burkhard Musselman of Stantec provided an overview of the layout and the party was greatly helped by Jane McElroy’s oversight of the development. After the visits to the emergency department, wards, outpatient and engineering areas, the party returned to Belfast.

Ulster Hospital, Dundonald, Belfast. South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust
After visiting facilities planned for rural populations the visit to the Ulster Hospital is the major acute hospital for the Trust and delivers the full range of acute services for the more urban population around Belfast. The visit to the new 6 storey 30,000m2 Inpatient Ward block designed by Avanti Architects with Kennedy Fitzgerald Architects provided an overview of the planned comprehensive redevelopment of the hospital. Kieran Quinn and Maureen Toner of the South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust who provided an insight of the integration of clinical services across the hospital during the multi-phase redevelopment. Andrew McKeown of Avanti described the evolution of design and features with modesty and understatement. Circulation through this complex medical environment is a pleasure with daylight and views of gardens with artwork whilst the clinical spaces and patient rooms showcase exceptional detailed design.

Bambridge Health and Care Centre, Southern Health & Social Care Trust
After a picnic lunch on the banks of the River Bann the party visited the award winning Bambridge Health and Care Centre. The primary and community health centre model is a distinctive feature of health and social care in Northern Ireland. Although a small building the architects have used the sloping setting to create layers of overlapping functions with stepped and beautifully landscaped courtyards making an exceptionally rich environment. We were welcomed by Sharon Radcliffe of the Southern Health & Social Care Trust and Damian Day of Kennedy Fitzgerald Architects who with Andrew McKeown of Avanti led the tours of this exceptional new facility. Short of time the party headed north for the final visit of the tour.

Ballymena Health and Care Centre, Northern Health & Social Care Trust
The excellent new Health and Care Centre for the Northern Trust area, provides a one-stop centre for assessment, treatment and provision of care to the local population. Services in the facility include 6 GP practices and a local pharmacy as well as a mix of locally accessible acute, primary and community care clinics. Arriving a little late we were met by Tim Harland of Hoskins Architects who with co-creators Keppie Design planned and designed this beautiful and rich new facility. Alison Renfrew and Diane Power of the Northern Health & Social Care Trust introduced and facilitated tours of this building which brings together a wide range of services in a modern and attractive setting.

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