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Tue July 16 2019

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Hospital finally opens after solving flammable insulation problems

1 May The new Royal Papworth Hospital is finally ready to admit its first patients this week after the installation of non-combustible insulation.

The new hospital, built by Skanska
The new hospital, built by Skanska

Skanska began construction of the £165m Royal Papworth Hospital on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus in 2015, but the project was delayed last year while work was carried out to ensure that cladding and insulation met post-Grenfell fire safety requirements.

Skanska was originally supposed to have handed over the building in July 2018, for a September opening. Issues with the insulation meant patients and staff had to continue using the old hospital for another winter while an alternative insulation solution was found and the work was completed.

Some 5,500m² of high performance, non-combustible insulation was sourced from British manufacturer SuperFoil Insulation and installed. Skanska finally finished construction in January 2019, enabling the hospital to open on 1st May 2019.

SuperFoil Insulation managing director William Bown said: “The new Royal Papworth Hospital is an incredible building that’ll help save lives so we wanted to do everything we could to help the hospital open as soon as possible.

“Of course, fire safety on large buildings is absolutely crucial and, as the only manufacturer of non-combustible multi-foil insulation, we were very happy to help.

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“It was a big order for us with 5,500m² of insulation needed, but one of the benefits of our SFNC is that it’s quick and easy to install and, because it’s only 20mm thick, the exterior design of the hospital didn’t have to change at all.”

Despite the narrow 20mm width of SuperFoil’s SFNC insulation, it offers an R-value of up to 1.54, the same as 50mm of traditional glass wool insulation. SFNC is also vapour resistant and thermally reflective, the manufacturer claims, enabling buildings to stay cooler in summer and warmer in winter.

The new hospital has 2,300 rooms, five operating theatres, five catheter laboratories and two hybrid theatres. It has around 300 beds, including a 46-bed critical care unit and 24 day beds. Most of the rooms are individual with en-suites and each room has a television, with up to 100 TV and radio channels available for free. The hospital also has free wi-fi throughout.

The old hospital in Papworth Everard was founded in 1918 and is recognised as one of Europe’s leading heart and lung hospitals. The first successful heart transplant took place at the hospital in 1979 as well as the world’s first successful heart, lung and liver transplant in 1986. Services are gradually being closed at the old site and transferred to the new hospital. It is estimated that the Papworth Everard site will fully close on Thursday 9th May.

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