MJ Medical recently completed the equipment planning and procurement for the newly opened Tessa Jowell Health Centre in Dulwich, south London. Designed by Murphy Phillips Architects and delivered by Wilmott Dixon, the new centre provides the community with a range of healthcare services including primary care, children’s services, diagnostics, physiotherapy, community mental health services, a renal dialysis unit and services for patients with long term conditions.
MJ Medical were appointed directly by the South East London CCG to determine the medical equipment and furniture content and specification for the centre, and manage the procurement and installation process. The later phases of the project were delivered against the constraints of the emerging Covid-19 pandemic. MJ Medical Senior Consultant Jill Baker explains what this meant for the equipment installation and commissioning process being undertaken at the time:
“Under the original programme, the CCG and contractor had agreed an early access period to the building approximately one month prior to practical completion in mid-April, to allow for equipping and clinical commissioning. This agreement was retracted suddenly just before the access was to start in mid-March, due to the effect the emerging pandemic was having on on-site resource and availability of materials. For us, this saw an immediate impact on our activities, with us having to rapidly reschedule 80% of the orders which had been placed and were due for delivery. Simultaneously some suppliers began to redirect stock that had been allocated for our orders to the orders coming through for the Nightingale Hospitals. There were long delays in receiving these products as components became more scarce and NHS demand increased”.
Given the level of emerging disruption to the project, and alongside a determination from all stakeholders to deliver the new centre in-line as far as possible with the original programme, the delivery risks were elevated to a board level concern within MJ Medical. Director Dan Gibson explains; “As well as undertaking a significant and fast paced operational business continuity planning process in face of the pandemic, there were several projects that also required a specific focus from MJ Medical’s leadership team in terms of response planning. For the Tessa Jowell Health Centre, we undertook a mitigation strategy development process, focusing in on the specific risks Covid presented to the project and our ability to deliver our services. The outcome was a strategy that reflected and planned for as much as we knew and could anticipate at the time, whilst allowing enough flexibility to change our approach in response to a fluctuating national picture”.
The strategy included liaising closely with suppliers to understand the adequacy of their response to the pandemic and the effect it may have on their performance and delivery times, identifying temporary storage solutions to ensure items were secured and available for installation when the adjusting programme would allow, and working closely with the project team and multiple clinical and community service providers who were occupying the building to scenario plan different commissioning and occupation options.
“Lockdown was preventing us from providing the level of on-site resource we would normally expect” says Jill. “By this point the Covid rules were changing almost daily and this impacted on the number of people allowed in the building, and our ability to freely move about on-site. As well as finalising the original equipping solution, we also had to make the building Covid secure. This required us to undertake a lot of additional detailed planning; our strategy laid out a process of daily conference calls between our home-based project team, our on-site team, suppliers, and other on-site stakeholders as needed. A detailed plan of objectives to achieve each day were developed, as well as indicative plans for coming days. In this way we were able to finely control what was going to be done and when in response to constantly moving goal posts.”
The new health centre was finally opened in June, just two months later than originally programmed. “It’s a testament to the flexibility of our team, and the collaboration and perseverance of the wider stakeholders, that the project was opened with minimal delay against the backdrop of a national pandemic lockdown,” Dan Gibson says. “We are confident the new health centre will serve the community well, both during the challenges of the current pandemic and after.”