Mechanical engineers to make-up artists

It’s Monday morning and I’m going through the usual routine of checking my diary to see what the week has in store. A vast array of meetings with people from different professions. It struck me just how wide the range of skills needs to be to deliver a new hospital. Who would ever guess you needed a makeup artist?

To date, the new Princess Alexandra Hospital has had input from architects, accountants, lawyers, planning experts, land agents, project managers, landscape artists, traffic modellers, equipment specialists, net zero carbon experts,  structural engineers, mechanical engineers, fire experts, health and safety experts, project administrators, communications professionals, insurance advisers, quantity surveyors, insurance advisers, healthcare planners, interior designers, infection prevention and control experts.

And let’s not forget the knowledge and experience of the hospital’s own clinicians, staff and patient reps. All before we even get a bulldozer on site!

So why do we need all these skills and expertise to design a hospital? 

Hospital buildings are complex and require significant planning to ensure they provide the right environment for delivering 21st century health care. They need to be safe, fit for purpose and flexible enough to be able to accommodate changes in the delivery of healthcare. You only have to look at the impact of Covid on a hospital to see how important flexibility is.

My role in the new hospital project is to bring all these experts in their field together to design a hospital that meets the needs of the patients and staff. Some of the roles are fairly obvious – architects, fire and health and safety experts – but what role do healthcare planners, traffic modellers or lawyers play?

A healthcare planner looks at the health needs of the local population, and the way the hospital intends to deliver healthcare in the future. They use this information to calculate the facilities that should be included in the hospital: the number of beds, treatment rooms, theatres, staff rest spaces etc. The architect then uses this ‘schedule of accommodation’ to design the building in a way that supports the patient ‘journey’, not just navigating the physical layout of the hospital, but easing their clinical care journey too.

A traffic/highways modeller assesses the catchment area for the hospital and how many patients are likely to use it depending on where the hospital is located. They also look at the number of vehicles that are likely to need to access the site so the appropriate level of parking and road systems can be provided.

And why do we need a lawyer? The build cost of a new hospital is significant, many hundreds of millions of pounds. When a builder/contractor is appointed, we need to ensure that all parties understand their responsibilities, the key deliverables and agreed timeframe. This is done through a suite of legal documents produced by a specialist construction lawyer.

So where does the makeup artist come in you might ask?

As part of our communications plan for the new hospital we are showcasing The Princess Alexandra’s amazing staff. The people that day in, day out make the hospital what it is and what it will be. We recently held a professional photoshoot with a selection of willing volunteers, complete with a hair and make-up artist. You can see the results for yourself throughout this site!

Helen Davis
New hospital programme director