Discover how the Department of Health and Social Care used our Modular Building Solutions framework to roll-out COVID testing sites across the UK.

The requirement

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for testing sites began to rapidly increase. In an effort to protect and safeguard public health, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) was tasked with the job of facilitating a roll-out of testing sites across the UK.

The solution

Modular buildings provided the ideal solution for DHSC as they are significantly quicker to build and offer improved safety, reduced risk, and greater certainty of completion on time and budget

DHSC used our Modular Building Solutions framework to source suitable suppliers who could meet their requirements. This framework has been designed to help the entire public sector with their permanent or temporary modular and portable buildings, which can be purchased or hired, and designed and fabricated to the customer’s exact specification.

Premier Modular, one of our modular building and offsite construction specialists, secured one of the contracts with DHSC. Their initial contract required 25 testing sites across the UK and was soon extended to up to 50 sites nationwide – from Portsmouth right the way up to Inverness. 

Each standalone testing 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 was also contracted to supply a number of other facilities for the testing sites, including a PPE room, stores, test preparation, staff rest room, kitchenette and toilets. They also provided essential services such as a water supply, alarm systems and electricity generators, reducing procurement time for DHSC.

As modular buildings are constructed off-site, Premier was able to continue operating safely and at capacity from the very start of the pandemic in March 2020. They maintained social distancing measures in a controlled factory environment, which helped to reduce the number of subcontractors operating on construction sites during the pandemic. They were also able to recruit around 100 new workers during the pandemic because of the increase in demand for temporary modular buildings. 

The geographical spread of testing sites required strong logistics and detailed project management from Premier. Their team reduced site installation to as little as 3 days, including testing, commissioning, service connections, handover, and inductions.

Our construction category team supported the client  with specialists in  offsite solutions, supporting strategic and operational decision making to ensure clarity of specification was brought to an evolving requirement. As the speed of demand out-stripped the immediate availability , our construction team used the Alliance Contract to enable full collaboration between multiple suppliers, working openly to resolve problems and ensuring all suppliers were working towards the clients common goal. 

The results

Due to the success of the project, Premier’s project team received a highly commended award in the ‘Best COVID-19 Project Team Award’ category, announced at the Building Better Healthcare Awards in London in November 2021.

Paul Jones, Category Lead, Crown Commercial Service said:

I was completely overwhelmed and proud of the response and collaboration between suppliers and all the hard working teams shown in the response to the covid test sites. The engagement and support given to the client to turn a difficult requirement into a fast and slick deployment really showed the benefits of dealing directly with the building manufacturers. The team work shown during this project has made the Alliance strong and we are seeing that positivity in the procurements we are doing currently.

Ian Astley, Regional Director, Premier Modular said: 

Working with CCS on the COVID-19 testing site schemes was a really positive experience, despite the extremely short lead times for each project and the wide geographical spread of the sites. The criteria for the submissions were clearly defined and the scope very well presented. The DHSC and CCS were, as always, a pleasure to work with throughout and we look forward to collaborating on future modular building projects.

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*Image courtesy of Premier Modular