Responding to coronavirus: how can construction alleviate the strain on the healthcare system?

18th March 2020

Britain – and the rest of the world – are facing a public health emergency on an unprecedented scale

Whilst we cannot be certain as to what the coming months will bring, we do know that both the NHS and private healthcare systems will be placed under extreme pressure. The need to admit and treat patients with COVID-19 virus, in addition to continuing care for other illnesses, will create an immense strain on the UK’s health resources.

A BBC report has suggested that around 80% of the population may become infected with the virus, resulting in an increased requirement for hospital treatment and critical care. 

A big problem facing healthcare providers is the lack of space to treat this influx of patients.

80% of the UK’s intensive care beds are already full: it’s been predicted that a shortage of hospital beds and specialist treatment units will be one of the major stumbling blocks in a coordinated response.

We know that there is an urgent need in the healthcare sector to rapidly and safely construct new treatment spaces, and this is where the construction industry has a crucial role to play.

Fast tracking projects and utilising available space

Firstly, existing hospital ward construction projects must be fast-tracked with utmost urgency, so that wards can become operational as soon as possible. At ITC, we are currently bolstering our efforts to finish our current ward refurbishment project at St Helier Hospital. We are also in discussion with the healthcare trust in order to incorporate any urgent design changes into the works.

Secondly, construction companies and fit-out specialists must explore the possibilities for converting suitable spaces into temporary wards. If demand significantly increases, hospitals may need to expand beyond their original sites. This would mean clients and contractors cooperating with schools, hotels, universities and office units to quickly adapt them into healthcare spaces.

The ITC Team has worked on a range of diverse healthcare projects – from fitting out nurse training wards for Bucks New University to creating treatment units at infectious-disease specialist hospital, the Royal Free. As a result, we understand exactly how to successfully and safely execute time-sensitive works in infection-controlled environments. 

Thus, we will endeavour over the coming months to draw upon our project management and planning skills, in conjunction with our network of skilled tradespeople, to play our part in supporting the crisis response.

Do you need a team with experience?

If you’d like to submit an enquiry regarding an urgent healthcare project, or you’d like to learn more about our recent project completions, don’t hesitate to contact our Business Development Manager Becky Cheney on 07824 608870, or email