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Construction underway on new Diagnostic Centre at Yeovil District Hospital

To celebrate work beginning on the construction of a brand-new diagnostic centre at Yeovil District Hospital, pioneering construction firm Darwin Group invited key partners in the delivery of the facility to attend a groundbreaking ceremony.

Somerset NHS Foundation Trust (FT) chief executive Peter Lewis was joined at the ceremony by clinicians at the trust, along with representatives from InHealth, which will provide radiology and endoscopy services, Prime plc, the trust’s strategic estates partner, and funders M&G Investment.

The centre, which is expected to open in late 2024, will provide over 70,000 diagnostic tests and outpatient appointments a year.

The modern state-of-the-art, stand-alone centre on the hospital site will benefit patients in Somerset and north west Dorset who will receive quicker diagnostic tests thanks to the additional capacity the centre will provide. Open seven days a week, it will provide radiology, endoscopy, cardiology and audiology diagnostic tests and outpatient appointments.

Thanks to Darwin Group’s innovative offsite modular construction methods, the project will be delivered up to 60 per cent faster and with up to 90 per cent less waste than traditional building methods, making it one of the most efficient and sustainable options in the marketplace.

Specialising in health and care property development, Prime collaborated closely with Darwin Group to design and develop a cutting-edge facility. The result will be a high-performing, sustainable, low-energy new build, meticulously designed to achieve net zero embodied carbon. Furthermore, it’s projected to yield an impressive biodiversity net gain of 267%. Their partnership working will continue during the construction phase of this innovative build which will be delivered at speed using modern methods of construction. The facility will take shape quickly with 73 modules being delivered and installed overnight over the course of eight days, transforming the estate at pace, whilst minimising disruption to the busy active hospital site.

Mr Jonathan Ockrim, a consultant colorectal surgeon and Somerset FT’s clinical lead for the Yeovil Community Diagnostic Centre, said: “I’ve worked at the hospital for 21 years and have never seen such an incredible investment in new buildings and facilities at the hospital, which is giving us much more capacity to care for and treat our patients.

“Within the new CDC we’ll have a new audiology unit, a cardio diagnostic centre, as well as an imaging suite so we can get quicker and better-quality CT and MRI scans for our patients.

“In additional the centre will house a brand-new state-of-the-art endoscopy unit, which will help to relieve the pressure on our busy endoscopy unit in the main part of the hospital, so it can prioritise emergencies. We also expect waiting times for an endoscopy to be greatly reduced.

“The centre will also have a number of additional clinic rooms, as well as a conference room at the top for various clinical meetings to take place.

“Overall, it promises to help us to reduce delays in diagnostics and endoscopy, and result in a much-improved service.

“We’re really excited to be breaking the ground this week and we’re very much looking forward to the new centre opening later this year and I think our local population will be excited too – it’s such great news!”

Geoff Searle, Chief Executive Officer of InHealth, said: “We’re delighted to mark the official start of build works for the new Yeovil Diagnostic Centre. When ready, this will be one of five brand new CDCs in the south west, as part of InHealth’s partnership with NHS England in the south west and we’re proud to be working in partnership with Somerset NHS Foundation Trust to provide key clinical services to the local population through this new centre.

“Across our nationwide network of CDCs, we’ve seen the real difference and positive impact that centres like these can bring for patients, focussed on improving health outcomes, so it’s fantastic to be doing that here in Yeovil.

“Our mission at InHealth is to make healthcare better and improve access to services like the ones that are going to be delivered here, as well as reduce the time people are waiting for a diagnosis and care, so it really will be a fantastic healthcare facility and something that InHealth is already very proud of and very much looking forward to opening.”

Leighton Chumbley, Chief Executive at Prime, said: “Prime has been proud to work in partnership with Yeovil District Hospital since 2014 and more recently with Somerset NHS Foundation Trust.

“We have delivered a number of transformational projects including the multi-storey car park opposite the main entrance and keyworker housing at Goldcroft.

“Patient and staff experience is at the forefront of the work we do. Yeovil Diagnostic Centre will not only enhance health outcomes in the region, but also enrich the local area by being a model of sustainable construction.”

Darwin Group Healthcare Director Alan Davidson, who attended the breaking ground ceremony, said: “We’re proud to work for Prime as partners to design and construct the diagnostic centre at Yeovil Hospital for Somerset NHS Foundation Trust.

“The projects we deliver help to transform patient and staff experience and improve healthcare outcomes for tens of thousands of people every year, and this diagnostic centre will be no exception.

“It’s always great to see work getting underway and to hear firsthand about the impact that the facility will have on the local community.”

Kevin Vickers, Director at M&G’s long lease real estate team, says: We are delighted to support the NHS by funding this new diagnostic centre. By using private sector finance to fund public sector projects, it is proof that effective partnerships like this can help to stretch the public purse and enable further societal benefits.

“In addition, the provision of patient capital for this project also benefits the millions of savers on whose behalf we invest, through the generation of sustainable long term returns for their pension funds. We look forward to seeing the centre come to life and the better health outcomes it will produce for people in the region.”