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NEC used to deliver UK's first proton beam centre

12 July 2019

The collaborative contract enabled the Proton Beam Therapy Centre at The Christie cancer hospital in Manchester to be delivered on time. 

NEC used to deliver UK's first proton beam centre

NEC has been used to procure the £125m state-of-the-art proton beam radiotherapy centre at The Christie cancer hospital in Manchester.

The project involved building a 15,000m2, five-storey, highly serviced building on a constrained site in a live hospital environment. Reinforced concrete walls up to 6m thick were needed to contain radiation around the proton beam equipment, requiring a total of 48,000t of concrete, while the total length of conduits for supporting electrical, mechanical and plumbing services was over 9km.

The building also includes a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerised tomography (CT) facilities, a large reception area, consultation rooms, planning and support accommodation, space for a fourth treatment unit, an electricity sub-station and a heat reclamation plant.

Despite the building’s high energy demand, it achieved a Breeam ‘excellent’ environmental rating.

The Christie NHS Foundation Trust engaged
Interserve as its principal supply chain partner on an early-contractor-involvement basis under an NEC3 Engineering and Construction Contract Option C (target contract with activity schedule) in March 2014.

Following a year of design development and optimisation, work started on site in July 2015 and the project was delivered on time and £2 million under budget in October 2018.

It won the Constructing Excellence Building Project of the Year Award in November and the first of up to 750 patients a year was treated in December 2018.

Interserve’s supply chain partners were architect HKS, engineer Arup and project manager Mace, each of which was contracted under an NEC3 Professional Services Contract (PSC).

Preferred supplier for the £40 million of proton beam equipment – including a 90t superconducting cyclotron and three 360° treatment units − was Varian in Germany, which was engaged under an NEC3 Supply Contract.

Collaboration helps deliver project on time

Jason Dawson, director of capital, estates and facilities of The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We are delighted to be able to offer this life-changing treatment to patients. The delivery of this facility using NEC contracts has been one of the most complex and precise projects within the NHS.

‘We identified very early in the project that we needed a construction partner that could work alongside our team. The NEC contractual obligation for parties to collaborate “in a spirit of mutual trust and co-operation” integrated with Interserve’s technical expertise and energy to solve problems is one of the key reasons we completed on time."

NEC benefits

Dawson said he is a firm advocate of the NEC-based Procure 21+ framework.

"Its benefits – clearly seen on this project – included early engagement and speed to site, effective risk management and cost control, plus access to a select band of contractors with specific expertise," he said.

"The NEC early warning process ensured that all issues which might have impacted on the project outcome, such as late design information from equipment suppliers, were identified and mitigated at the outset. The open-book approach of ECC Option C also meant we had complete transparency of costs and programme throughout the project."

Dawson added that building information modelling (BIM) played a crucial role in the design of the centre.

"Working under NEC PSC contracts, the design team produced an integrated, federated design model to give a four-dimensional representation of the project. This was used to coordinate equipment designs and for clash detection, creating savings of around £1.95 million. It was also the used to validate radiation protection, the first time this has been done in the UK."

  • Tony Ding, NEC Contracts Specialist.