We have just delivered one of our most challenging projects to date.

In less than five weeks, SES Engineering Services (SES) and Wates Construction have delivered a full fit-out of floors 14 and 15 at Royal London Hospital, to create additional capacity for more than 170 intensive care beds to support the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fit-out, which would usually take around 12 months to complete, has seen our teams deliver full MEP works as well as all ceilings, floors, cubicles, toilets and partitions, across two vacant floors, left empty for expansion when the hospital was first built in 2012.

The Royal London Hospital project has been a 24/7 test of our innovation and endurance, and it would not have been possible without the concerted effort of the entire Wates Group – this has been a true show of what a collaborative approach can deliver.

We were initially approached by Barts Health NHS Trust at the end of March, and within 24 hours, we had collated a team from across the business based on their expertise. With my experience in delivering technically complex hospital projects, I was chosen to lead from SES in implementing building services, with a team of subcontractors recommended by all parts of the business for their reputation and experience in the healthcare sector.

A truly transparent and joined-up approach was employed from the very beginning and this was essential for us to complete on time. For example, by sharing resource across Wates and SES’ building physics teams, the design and planning process went from a 3-6 month timeframe to under a week.

The strength and depth of the Wates Group

Without this collective group expertise and understanding between businesses, it is unlikely we would have been able to complete this build in as short a time as we have.

By sitting under the same group, SES Engineering Services and Wates Construction have full understanding of how each business works, and there’s no need for an embedding process or learning to work together. This has been particularly important when working on this project under social distancing regulations, to ensure the health and safety of our teams and the public has been fully upheld.

Adopting a ‘circular’ approach

The trust between our businesses and subcontractors has also allowed for a circular approach to decision-making, with key team members meeting every five hours to assess progress and make changes, while SES’ offsite manufacturing facility, Prism was engaged at the beginning to help speed up delivery and reduce man hours on site.

Everything has been shared on this project – resource, expertise, and workload – and on such a high-pressure site, this attitude has been invaluable. Our teams have worked in shifts every hour of the day, many working away from their families, during an uncertain and frightening time. Yet despite this stress, we have never lost heart, and have all been determined to complete this vital project to support our NHS in any way we can. By working towards a common goal, we have been able to deliver this project successfully, safely and in a record time, and I and all my colleagues are infinitely proud of what we have accomplished, together.