Ninewells hospital Dundee

Year:1974

Duration:10 years

Cost:£25m (£192m today)

Country: Dundee, UK

What did this project achieve?

Build a major teaching hospital to serve the city of Dundee and Scotland itself

Ninewells hospital is on the western edge of the city of Dundee in Scotland. When it opened in 1974 it was the first new teaching hospital to be built in the UK since the 19th century.

The hospital is known for having introduced laparoscopic surgery (also known as keyhole surgery) to the UK. It's acknowledged as a leading centre for cancer management and robotic surgery.

Planning for the hospital was a lengthy process. First proposed in 1949, building work only started in 1964. It was officially opened by the Queen Mother in 1974, although some sections were not finished till the following year.

A £10m overhaul of Ninewells' paediatric services saw the department renamed as the Tayside Children's Hospital in 2006.

Ninewells has 862 beds. It was the biggest hospital in Scotland until the opening of Glasgow's Queen Elizabeth university hospital in 2015.

Difference the hospital has made

Since it opened, Ninewells has become established as the main medical centre in Dundee for a wide range of services.

The accident and emergency (A&E) department alone sees 150,000 admissions a year. It's the regional major trauma centre for Tayside and Fife with patients arriving by road or air ambulance.

The opening of Ninewells in 1974 had a more negative impact on some of Dundee's other hospitals – with closures as some services moved.

Dundee Royal Infirmary had been the city's main hospital for over 100 years. It closed in 1998 when most of its services moved to Ninewells. The city's Maryfield hospital also closed after Ninewells opened.

How the work was done

Ninewells was the first completely new teaching hospital in decades. The construction project team took the opportunity to explore new ideas.

Engineers and designers built a large-scale model of the proposed buildings – as well as full size mock-ups of certain key areas. This included an operating theatre.

Most hospital design at the time used a multi-storey block of wards on top of a lower diagnostic and treatment building. Ninewells explored the idea of a mainly low level group of buildings. It was thought this would help people move around the hospital more easily.

Wards were positioned with patients in mind. Engineers put them on the quieter south and west sides of the structure. This meant they also got more sunlight.

Engineers also replaced the traditional through ventilation of most wards with extract ventilation.

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Nothing that science can devise, nor money provide, will be lacking for the treatment of the patients.

Queen Elizabeth

The Queen Mother, opening Ninewells hospital on 23 October 1974.

Fascinating facts

The first in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) test-tube baby in Scotland was born at Ninewells in 1984.

The hospital has a therapeutic and community garden, designed as a place for people to relax. The space has fruit and vegetables as well as a sensory and medicinal herb garden.

Cancer charity Maggie's has a centre at Ninewells. With buildings designed by world famous architect Frank Gehry, Maggie's Dundee opened in 2003.

People who made it happen

  • Designers: architects Robert Matthew Johnson-Marshall and partners
  • Structural engineer: Tom Ridley

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