Vince Kesterton MCIOB
On this mission impossible to build a hospital with 800 critical care beds in a month, Vince Kesterton leveraged 30 years of experience delivering high-value healthcare projects. His coordination, sequencing and communication triggered an excellent response from his supply chain, delivering not just the facility, but also excellent quality and programme. He brought the innovation and nimbleness badly needed on such a fast-track scheme without throwing the project budget under the bus.
About the Project
Birmingham Nightingale Hospital
Construction of emergency hospital, completed in four weeks.
Client: University Hospitals Birmingham and NHS
Contract: NEC 3
Cometh the hour, cometh the construction manager. Having delivered more than 30 NHS projects with a combined value of £200m+ over the past 33 years, Vince Kesterton was the perfect professional to lead the Birmingham Nightingale Hospital project.
It had all the flavour of a mission impossible. A hospital with 800 critical care beds built to exacting clinical standards rather than the typical field hospital model for a Nightingale in just four weeks?
With not enough hours in the day to keep a semblance of construction normality on a project that proceeded with unrelenting speed, Vince and his team worked fabulously long hours because they had to plan and deliver in tandem. Change was a constant challenge, with the brief and requirements changed on a daily basis as information about the pandemic emerged and evolved.
Vince’s intensive coordination, sequencing and communication triggered an excellent response from his supply chain – people he’d spent many years cultivating relationships with. He also brought the innovation and nimbleness badly needed on such a fast-track scheme. He promoted prefabrication of fit-out elements and off-site finishing so that assembly could take place quickly on site with a reduced trades presence.
And he was not panicked by the urgency of the project into throwing the budget under the bus. Rather than building the bed bays out of a stud partition system as originally envisaged, he proposed a much more economic ‘exhibition system’ of frames from the NEC to divide bed bays and rigging them up to the necessary services.
He overcame the converted facility’s M&E limitations by building mini plumbing stations next to each toilet block. He built an urgently desired mortuary within days using a stackable refrigerated container system and scaffold access to the different levels. And he purpose-built a contained facility for X-rays and ultrasound by using stud walls and lead-lined plasterboard.
A success? Oh yes. Acknowledging that getting the business case signed off for Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth took eight years, whereas the Nightingale planning and fit-out took less than two weeks, the client’s project manager declared it ‘the best example of teamwork I’ve ever known, and I’ve worked in the health service since 1979’.