Time-honoured tradition marks major milestone in hospital improvement programme
Topping out ceremonies date back to Roman times and mark the completion of the building's frame
The Royal Bournemouth Hospital marked a major milestone recently with a traditional ‘topping out’ ceremony for its new BEACH Building.
Lord Markham, Under Secretary of State for the Department of Health and Social Care; and Jacqueline Smith, Deputy Lieutenant of Dorset, attended the event alongside a number of staff from University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust (UHD), including chief executive, Siobhan Harrington; and Dr Isabel Smith, the trust’s medical director for transformation.
The event was hosted by Integrated Health Projects (IHP), an alliance between VINCI Building UK and Sir Robert McAlpine, which led the construction work.
As part of the ceremony, dating back to the Roman era, the guests were led to the top of the BEACH Building by a bagpiper, where a symbolic tightening of bolts took place and an evergreen bough was nailed to the structure. This was followed by an exchange of tankards to symbolise a job well done.
The BEACH Building is a 23,000sq m complex standing six storeys tall – equivalent to 115 tennis courts.
It contains a new maternity unit and children’s unit, as well as an enhanced emergency department, larger than the existing facilities at the Royal Bournemouth and Poole Hospital combined, and a critical care unit with capacity for 30 beds.
When it opens in spring 2025, it will enable the Royal Bournemouth Hospital to become the major emergency hospital for Dorset.
Lord Markham said: “It was an honour to attend the topping out ceremony of Royal Bournemouth Hospital’s new BEACH Building, backed by over £168m of government investment.
“This building will improve birth, emergency, and critical care services, and children’s health services, making a significant difference in helping cut waiting times for patients in Dorset by serving nearly 145,000 patients a year.
“We continue to work closely with the NHS to improve services and this new building is part of over 70 hospital upgrades we’re delivering across the country, on top of 40 new hospitals.”
This building will improve birth, emergency, and critical care services, and children’s health services, making a significant difference in helping cut waiting times for patients in Dorset by serving nearly 145,000 patients a year
John Roberts, managing director at IHP and VINCI Building, added: “IHP is proud to achieve this major milestone in the construction of the new facility here at Bournemouth Hospital.
“The project represents significant investment in the site to provide a new state-of-the-art A&E department and it will serve local people in the city, Poole, and wider Dorset community, providing improved patient journeys and outcomes, for years to come.”
The construction work has been designed to minimise disruptions to the Royal Bournemouth site for the duration of the project, with the BEACH Building itself set to open in Autumn 2024.
The project is part of a wider £250m investment to transform UHD’s hospitals.
Siobhan Harrington, trust chief executive, said: “The BEACH Building, when it welcomes patients in 2025, will help create a hospital specialising in emergency care at the Royal Bournemouth, while at Poole, we are putting the finishing touches to our new operating theatres complex – creating the major planned hospital for Dorset.
“As we plan for the future services, we remain focused on the present, and the responsibility to continue to deliver high-class care for all our patients.”