Merit Health awarded £30 million Berwick Hospital contract

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A brand new £30m hospital for people in Berwick has now moved a step closer as a contractor has been appointed. Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has awarded the contract to a Northumberland-based construction company, Merit.

This ambitious project will transform health care and patient experience for those living in the area.

On 1 December 2020 Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee granted planning permission, giving the project the green light to go ahead. In addition, further funding has now been made available to ensure this building is fit for the future of health care and also incorporating inflationary costs while reaching this point.

Sir James Mackey, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are delighted to appoint Merit. As an experienced and well-established construction specialist, with a varied and impressive portfolio, I can assure the people of Berwick that we are confident that Merit will deliver a state-of-the-art hospital. It is fantastic that they are a local company, based in Cramlington.

“For too long, residents have needed a new hospital which is fit to deliver 21st century health care, now and for future generations, and is equipped to embrace the latest technology to provide our patients with the highest quality of care. Our new hospital will also enable closer working with primary care, again improving patient care and experience.

“In these uncertain and difficult times, this is an extremely welcome innovative development, which will also generate 300 jobs per year during construction and support the local economy. I would like to reassure everyone in Berwick that we will keep them regularly updated as this exciting project progresses.”

Work to enable the demolition of vacant parts of the current hospital is to begin this month and will enable the construction of the new development on the northern end of the site to begin in the Summer.

Merit managing director, Tony Wells, said: “We are delighted to be working with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to deliver Berwick’s new hospital. As Merit is based in Northumberland we are proud to be delivering a facility in our local area.

“Merit recently launched a new division, Merit Health, to provide healthcare providers and patients with next generation hospital facilities. We have collaborated 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.

“A large part of the construction work will be undertaken offsite in the Merit factory in Cramlington. The use of offsite manufacture means that Merit can control the quality, significantly improve the programme and minimise disruption to those who live and work in Berwick.”

Northumbria Healthcare’s executive director for nursing and midwifery, Marion Dickson, who is leading the project for the trust, said: “While our staff at Berwick do an amazing job and provide the highest quality of care for our patients, they are constrained by the poor physical condition and functionality of the building which is, in parts, nearly 150 years old.

“Having a purpose-built hospital will make a massive difference to them and ensure an improved experience for our patients while providing enhanced privacy and dignity.

“I would like to thank our staff and the local community for their ongoing support over the years and we will keep everybody up-to-date during the exciting times ahead.”

Originally built in 1874, the current infirmary is no longer suitable for the efficient delivery of modern-day healthcare. The new purpose-built hospital will re-provide all the existing services with the addition of an accredited endoscopy suite to deliver care closer to people’s homes, and house GP practice Well Close Medical Group.