21st April 2020

‘Everyone is working for the same goal’

It’s been a whirlwind few weeks for Design Manager Peter McVeigh and his family. With his wife working full-time in the NHS and Peter committing all hours to the NHS Nightingale hospitals, initially at Manchester and now in Preston, life couldn’t be more full on. Especially with the couple simultaneously trying to juggle the demands of a young family. But the rewards are also huge.

What, for you, has been the most impressive aspect of the Nightingale hospitals?

Walking into the completed hospital at Manchester Central Convention Complex was amazing. I would have never imagined on day one that it would have been possible to achieve what we handed over.

Two weeks ago, it was just an empty space, and to then put 750 beds in there complete with all staff amenities in just 12 days; I have never seen anything like it, it’s unheard of really. The hours that the workforce have put in, the designers, everybody, it was just absolutely fantastic.

And when you look at what we have done, and what the space is going to be used for, it’s quite emotional. The real work is going to start now with the caring for those people. We have just played a part in this; the bigger element is now happening.

What’s your role on the Nightingale hospitals?

I’m still working as a Design Manager but also from a quality log position. So, it’s managing that process, making sure that when a decision is made, we have an auditable trail to say it was agreed on this date, that this is why we went that route, and who signed it off. I’m also logging derogations, which are where what is delivered is not compliant with normal hospital technical guidance, to make sure we’ve noted it down straightaway, and that everybody agrees with the compromises that are needed in the current circumstances.

What is your typical working day like at the moment?

Long, long hours. When I was working on the Manchester Nightingale Hospital, driving from my home in Preston, the roads were quiet which was quite useful. I’d get to Manchester, be there for 12 hours, come home have a bite to eat and then get back on the laptop looking at drawing decision logs, making sure that we were all compliant with where we needed to be. It was fast-paced and you couldn’t really leave things for an hour because it needed to be signed off or changed. It was long hours but it needed to be done and I was very pleased to do it.

'There are no hidden agendas from anyone here, everyone knows what is required of them. Everyone’s coming together with a team spirit and approach, which is great.'

You’ve got more of the same now at Preston?

Yes, but we seem to have got more clinicians here from day one, so we are getting that early input, which lets us lockdown the designs quite early, which is good. But it’s about team spirit, and everyone has got that one goal and one aim to get these places built as quickly as possible, and to the right standard. There are no hidden agendas from anyone here, everyone knows what is required of them. Everyone’s coming together with a team spirit and approach, which is great.

From this experience have you learnt anything which you or SRM can benefit from in the future?

Having access to all the right people all in one room to talk through the design is useful. Having people able to present their ideas so that everyone can bounce off them makes for better collaboration. I think it’s just making sure that everything is aligned at the start. We are all in this together so it’s great leadership more than anything. We have had some very good project leaders who’ve made sure that from the start everyone knows what is required.

'I'm not sure people are aware of how strong the healthcare team is and what expertise we have available to us.'

Is there anything else that you would like to share?

The wealth of experience we’ve got within the healthcare team has really stood out to me. The clinician liaison Paul Jackson and Caroline Mulholland have brought, for example, has been fantastic. They help challenge some of the clinical requests that are “nice to haves” and help to work out if you actually need it. I’m just not sure people are aware of how strong the team is and what expertise we have available to us.

News and comment

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