National Rollout of Covid-19 Testing Sites
Community testing sites were required across the UK to support the Government in rapidly increasing testing capacity in the Covid-19 pandemic to help safeguard public health.
THE OFFSITE SOLUTION
Procured through Crown Commercial Service for the Department of Health and Social Care, Premier’s multi-million-pound contract was for 50 testing sites across the UK, from Portsmouth to Inverness.
Each standalone test site had a 110sqm purpose-designed testing building pre-fitted with eight patient cubicles, hygienic walls, separate staff entrance and exit, test collection, and drop off zones and a family testing room.
Premier’s contract included the supply of welfare facilities in three buildings to accommodate a PPE room, stores, test preparation, staff rest room, kitchenette, and toilets, as well as essential services – water supply, effluent collection, datacomms, alarm systems, and electricity generators.
Perimeter security fencing, pad foundations, steps and ramps, floodlighting, radio communications and datasets, and daily water and effluent management were also carried out by Premier on every site.
- Since the first project was delivered in Bolton, Premier set up standalone community testing sites in towns and cities across the country including Glasgow, Leamington Spa, Dudley, Nottingham, Aylesbury, Buxton, Bury St Edmunds, Torbay, Lambeth, Durham, and Liverpool.
The geographical spread of the sites demanded strong logistics and detailed project management.
- The bespoke testing buildings were each manufactured to order. To help achieve this, Premier put in place an entire extra shift to work through the night at its modular building factory in East Yorkshire. This allowed it to achieve the record lead times required for this contract and other major projects during the pandemic.
- Premier brought together a range of highly committed suppliers to facilitate the installation of around two sites per week. Lead times from site notification to handover were reduced to just a week – and even less than that on some sites, which was a phenomenal achievement.
- Premier reduced the site installation to just three days, including testing, commissioning, service connections, handover, and inductions. This compared to five days for other test site suppliers.
- Some city centre sites were very constrained and so required careful logistical planning to manage limited space, particularly during the installation.
THE CUSTOMER PERSPECTIVE
Spokesperson, Crown Commercial Service:
“In these incredibly difficult times, the offsite sector most definitely switched up a gear – both to help the Government in its response to the crisis and to keep critical public sector construction projects moving forward safely."
“The way our key suppliers responded to the challenge of the Covid-19 test site rollout was hugely impressive. Operations ceased on construction sites across the country at the start of the pandemic and social distancing requirements reduced productivity. The offsite factories remained operational and specialists such as Premier continued at capacity, expanding its hire fleet, and recruiting to significantly increase its workforce to meet demand. This will have long-term benefits to support the UK’s Covid Recovery Plan."
George Swanepoel, Project Manager at testing service provider Sodexo:
“The site set up and the testing facility at Havant were fantastic. This was a well-designed building which was highly efficient for maintaining patient flows and social distancing. The modular solution was easy to keep clean, was not exposed to the elements, and was a safe and comfortable environment for our staff to work in. The building installation went very smoothly in just a few hours. This testing site has had a really positive impact on the local community."
SOCIAL DISTANCING IN A FACTORY SETTING
It has been well documented that modular construction offers improved safety, reduced risk, and greater certainty of completion on time and budget. The fact that Premier’s factories continued to operate safely and at capacity from the very start of the pandemic in March 2020, is clear evidence of this.
It is far easier to maintain Covid-safe social distancing in a controlled factory environment than on site – and reducing the number of people on a construction site is a significant advantage for contractors operating in a pandemic.
Premier recruited around 100 new people during the pandemic because of the increasing demand for both its temporary modular buildings and its bespoke offsite construction solutions.