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A huge demolition machine nicknamed 'bucket thumbs' is starting work to knock down part of St. Mary's Hospital in Portsmouth.
This formidable bit of kit is set to mark another milestone in the redevelopment of the site into a community health campus.
The Caterpillar tracked machine will start the demolition work on the old Out-Patients’ Department (OPD) today (Monday 11 April).
Demolition of the two-storey building is expected to be completed by mid-May.
NHS Portsmouth, the city’s primary care trust, is transforming part of the St Mary’s site into a new £18m government-funded
community health campus in Portsmouth.
The project will include a new midwife-led maternity centre, to replace the existing temporary facility; and a 12 to 16-bed GP-led intermediate care wards for patients.
BAM have been on site since 2009. They are converting and refurbishing the former St Mary’s Hospital maternity and paediatric blocks.
The buildings – known as Blocks A and B - have been vacant since Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust (PHT) transferred its services to the redeveloped Queen Alexandra Hospital.
The Department of Health is contributing £17.1m to the £18.6m scheme, with NHS Portsmouth the other £1.5m.
The initial part of the project has centred on Block B, the ground floor of which includes the new Out-Patients Department, which in January this year.
Other services provided in the new-look building will include podiatry, phlebotomy, speech and language therapy, chronic disease management and medical records.
NHS Portsmouth’s Project Manager, Catherine Webster, said:
“The demolition of the old Out-Patients Department will not only remove a building which has become a bit of an eyesore but it will enable us to build the new permanent entrance to the new OPD.
“We accept that the existing temporary entrance isn’t ideal. But the permanent entrance will really add the finishing touch to what we hope people believe is already a very impressive facility.
“This is obviously another big stage in the redevelopment as the local NHS aims to deliver its vision of providing the finest healthcare facilities for residents in the city.”
Dr Hogan said:
“The St Mary’s Community Health Campus is a very exciting project which will provide greater benefits to people who need to access a range of healthcare services in the city.”
Work on the entire campus is due to be completed later this year, with the site becoming fully operational in early 2012.
Key features of the other main building in the campus – Block A – will include a main entrance and reception, health promotion; day care for the elderly, physiotherapy/occupational therapy and the midwife-led maternity centre and intermediate care ward
The St Mary’s NHS Treatment Centre, which includes a minor injuries unit and a walk-in facility, will be a central feature of the new campus.