16th April 2020

‘Nightingale Hospitals show power of collaboration’

On completion of the NHS Nightingale North West Hospital in Manchester, Clinical Liaison Manager Caroline Mulholland reflects on the power of collaboration and teamwork. Caroline is working as part of our IHP joint venture to deliver Covid-19 surge hospitals across the country.

What’s your role for IHP on the NHS Nightingale North West Hospital?

My role is to act as the interface between the clinical and operational teams and the construction team. These are NHS-led projects and include partners from the armed forces, local government and industry so there are many moving parts.

So, I work with the clinical and the operational teams to find out what they want and translate that for the contractors and construction team and vice versa. In part that means helping our NHS colleagues understand the implications of the build and trying to steer a way through so you make sure everything that’s needed is included, without getting distracted by the bells and whistles in this field hospital environment.

How has life changed for you over the last couple of weeks?

Out of all recognition. I arrived in Manchester a week last Monday and it’s been full 14-hour days ever since. It’s a bit like being in the Big Brother house: surrounded by the same people day in day out in an intense and pressurised environment. But it’s been amazing; it’s been life changing and it has and will change the way we work completely.

And ultimately, the feeling that we are able in some way to help in this pandemic has just been great.

What, for you, is the most impressive aspect of the Nightingale Hospital project?

The speed and the solution driven approach from the construction side. The focus has been: ‘how can we make it all work and how can we make it work quickly?’. There’s no procrastinating, no commercial opportunism, and from the clinical and the operational side, a respect for the help we can give them. It’s sobering when you hear about what it’s like back at the ranch for them, back in the hospitals. But for the clinical teams the biggest success of the Nightingale Hospital is if we don’t get a patient in them.

Have you learnt anything from this project that would benefit you or SRM in the future?

Absolutely. It’s shown how quickly decisions can be made when everyone is bought in and on the same page: working on what’s needed first and not sweating the small stuff. I just can’t help but think that when this is over, and the NHS starts with the big hospital building programme they’ve now seen how quickly the NHS and the right contractors can be galvanised to do these works. Never again will it be acceptable to take three years to get to a start on site. It’s just been completely industry changing.

What’s next?

I'm supporting the IHP team on further work in Lancashire, and the J3 team in Jersey, with clinical advice and lessons learned from Manchester.

There are so many lessons to learn and so much to share from this, once the dust has settled and I have paused for breath there’s a lot to share and I look forward to doing so.

IHP team Nightingale Manchester
Our NHS Nightingale North West team pictured l-r are: Paul Jackson, Paul Gaines, Jonathan Thornhill, Caroline Mulholland, David Metcalfe, Peter Gallagher, Peter McVeigh