Northumbria Healthcare and contractors Lendlease have confirmed they have settled a multi-million pound court case over a series of defects found in the construction of the £95 million building. Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital (NSECH) in Cramlington.
The deal remains confidential but Northumbria Healthcare had initially sought more than £140m, claiming £70m was needed to build a temporary structure to “decant”. National Health Service hospital services, move them to new facilities, while extensive work is done to fix problems in the main building.
The “defects” identified range from those related to fire safety “including firestops, fire dampers, fire doors, smoke removal, smoke screens and the use of elevators for evacuation”, problems with the “fire rating” of door frames and the “fire resistance” of exterior walls. Work to address fire safety issues and ensure public safety is understood to have taken place before action was taken.
Other topics related to the floor, external walls, hospital roof, piping, drainage system, M&E, landscaping, and the hospital helipad. M&E refers to mechanical and electrical systems. As early as 2018, the hospital trust confirmed that fire safety repair work had been carried out. At this stage, the Trust has said that it is not yet in a position to discuss the next steps needed to address the outstanding issues.
However, it is understood that a group, including senior doctors, has been convened to consider how moving hospital services to a temporary building during repair works would work. The NHS trust and main contractors have made it clear that they are confident of the safety of the public.
NSech opened in 2015 and cost £95m to build and equip. Previous rulings as part of the now-settled legal action against contractor Lendlease, which implicated its own subcontractors including the firms Balfour Beatty Kirkpatrick, Horbury, MPB, Iko, Keppie and Briggs Amasco in the action, highlight the variety of flaws identified . All the claims and counterclaims derived from the legal action have already been resolved.
According to a judgment of May 2022 in the case: “Claimants’ total claim is for damages in the amount of approximately £140 million. A large part of the claim, some £73 million, is claimed as the cost of the ‘slop scheme’, which involves sloping the hospital into a specially constructed four-story building during the proposed repair work, so that the hospital can continue to function and maintain the level of care necessary for patients subject to emergency or critical medical conditions.”
The NHS trust confirmed that it was assured of “ongoing and ongoing safety for patients, staff and visitors”. In 2018, a n The NHS worker at the trust questioned whether there were any fire safety issues with the then three-year-old building. after seeing the firefighters regularly at the hospital. At that time, firefighters northumberland The Fire and Rescue Service had been offering advice to correct “minor defects”, while the hoses on the site were a precautionary measure during external works.
At the time, the health worker said they had seen lining and door frames removed, and the Northumbria NHS Trust said the replacements were part of “standard hitch practice” jobs, where minor flaws were found. Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service said it had been working with the NHS to “ensure that all fire safety measures are in place and that the premises comply with fire regulations”.
Following confirmation of the agreement, which has not been disclosed, the NHS Trust and Lendlease issued the same statement, saying: “Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (the Trust) and Lendlease can confirm that an agreement has been reached in respect of their Ongoing litigation with Lendlease, which was due to be heard in court beginning October 26, 2022.
“The terms of the agreement remain confidential, but the Trust can confirm that the agreement enables it to ensure the continued safety of patients, staff and visitors at Northumbria Emergency Specialist Care Hospital.”
A Balfour Beatty spokesperson said: “We are pleased to have reached an agreement with Lendlease in relation to Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital. Details of the agreement are confidential and as such we are unable to comment further at this time.”
The other contractors involved in the litigation have also been contacted for comment.