Rebecca Mason - The Grange University Hospital

Rebecca is studying BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering.  As part of her placement with  NHS Wales Shared Service Partnership she was given the opportunity to work on the new £350m Grange University Hospital in Llanfrechfa, Cwmbran whilst it was under construction. 

"Over the last couple of years working at NHS Wales Shared Service Partnership, I have been lucky enough to see the Grange University Hospital progress from a construction site, to a fully operational hospital.

The first time I visited the Grange in 2018, I was surprised to see pre-fabricated rooms locked up, in the middle of what was still very much a construction site, and pieces of the above-ceiling services, in large rectangles, ready to be pieced together like a very large jigsaw puzzle. The contractors working on the project gave us tours, where we would look for potential issues, and they would explain their plans and ideas for the site. We were also be sent drawings for us to review and check for compliance, and would send our comments back to the contractors.

During our time at the Grange, we completed a lot of work on the BMS, which allows the estates team to control the air- handling units, and hence the airflow, to certain parts of the hospital. Via the BMS, the estates team can control the speed, temperature, and humidity of the air by controlling certain aspects of the air-handling unit. It is particularly important that the air supply to the theaters and patient rooms is correct to prevent infection and the spread of disease. We ensured that these controls were correct by undertaking point-to-point witnessing and cause and effect witnessing.

The Grange Hospital has 59 air-handling units, and the work we completed on the BMS on these air-handling units really helped me to understand how the controls of the air-handling unit have an effect on the temperature, humidity and speed of the airflow. I became a lot more familiar with how the air-handling units work and why they are so important.

In addition to the work we did on the BMS, we also completed a range of other tasks such as checking water temperatures and flushing of water outlets to ensure that legionella does not grow in the water system, testing fire dampers to ensure that they close when the fire alarms are activated to prevent the spread of fire, checking isolation rooms to ensure that the air flows in the correct direction and hence prevents viruses and diseases from leaving the room, witnessing the commissioning of Ultra Clean Ventilation (UCV) operating theaters, checking Health Technical Memoranda (HTM) compliance, and we were even lucky enough to witness a cat 3 laboratory being tested for air leaks.

The Grange Hospital opened in November 2020, 4 months ahead of schedule, due to the hard work of both the contractors and NHS staff, to ensure that the NHS had extra capacity for winter struggles and a possible second peak of the pandemic.

My experience at the Grange Hospital was very beneficial for my learning, and I feel that I was very lucky to be able to witness such a large project. It is not very often that new hospitals are built, and this is a particularly interesting hospital due to it being designed as a ‘specialist critical care centre’ so a lot of the equipment and design intent in the hospital is very specialised. I believe that this experience has taught me so much, not just about the individual aspects that make up a hospital such as the air handling units, fire dampers, water and medical gases, but also how these all link together to form a building which is able to save lives".

Inset: Rebecca on site

Inset: One of the UCV operating theatres during construction

Inset: Oxygen VIE at the Grange University Hospital