The Queen opens new Northern Ireland hospital

Her Majesty the Queen officially opened the new state-of-the-art South West Acute Hospital, in the Northern Ireland town of Enniskillen on June 26th. The £276 million hospital is the first hospital to be built in Northern Ireland in more than a decade.

Photo: The Queen opens new Northern Ireland hospital
Photo: The Queen opens new Northern Ireland hospital

The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, was in Northern Ireland on a two-day visit as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour of the United Kingdom.

The hospital, run by Western Health and Social Care Trust, has been described as one of the most modern in Europe. It is the first in Northern Ireland to be built under a public-private partnership arrangement, and is part of a broad programme of investments aimed at improving the UK's infrastructure. With 315 beds it is the first public hospital in the Northern Ireland and the second in the UK to be built with 100% single rooms, ensuring that patients can enjoy privacy.

Baldomero Falcones, CEO and Chairman of FCC said, "It is a great honour for FCC Construccion's first UK project to be have opened by Her Majesty the Queen. We are very proud to have completed the project on time and within budget. The UK is a strategic country for FCC, and we want to continue being an active player in the development of the country's infrastructure.''

The hospital offers the most modern clinical practices and state-of-the-art technology. It will provide a wide range of services including accident and emergency, maternity, x-ray and imaging, coronary care, intensive care maternity and children's services amongst others. The South West Acute Hospital replaces the nearby Erne Hospital. 75 patients were successfully transferred to the new hospital on the 21st June.

Built amid the scenic greenery of Wolf Lough (lake), the 65,000 metre-square hospital sits on a 52-acre greenfield site surrounded by rolling countryside. The hospital, designed by architect, Stantec Anshen + Allen, was created with patient and staff wellbeing in mind. The design maximises natural light and views of landscape, nature and Wolf Lough.

The complex is designed as a set of three buildings, interspersed with long, linear gardens and courtyards, allowing for optimum use of natural daylight and ventilation, in addition to facilitating a constant visual relationship with the surroundings. A key feature is the separation between staff/patient and public routes. The hospital also boasts a hospital workers' residence building and an energy demand management centre, making it one of the most advanced hospitals in Europe in terms of energy efficiency.

In late May the keys to the hospital were handed over to the owner, the Western Health and Social Care Trust. Speaking on the occasion, Elaine Way, Chief Executive of the Western Health and Social Care Trust, said: "I am proud to say that the South West Acute Hospital is one of the most modern facilities in the whole of Europe. I would like to thank everyone involved in the planning and building who made this magnificent hospital possible. I particularly thank the contractor, FCC, for working so hard to ensure that the hospital has been built to the highest quality standards, on time and within budget."

In May 2009 the Western Health and Social Care Trust signed the concession agreement for the design, construction, financing and operation of the new hospital in Enniskillen with the Northern Ireland Health Group, a consortium in which FCC Construccion holds a 39% interest and is the majority partner. Local firms Allied Irish Bank Piv and Interserve Investments are the other members of the consortium.


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