Progress on Aberdeen’s two newest hospitals has been welcomed by those closest to the project.
Plans to build a new family hospital and cancer unit have been talked about in the city for the last ten years.
Now, the initial groundwork has commenced, with the facilities planned to open in 2023.
The ANCHOR Centre and the Baird Family Hospital are being built on the grounds of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and are the largest hospital capital project ongoing in Scotland in terms of size and square footage.
It is also the most money NHS Grampian has spent on a facility, totalling £223.2m.
Project director Jackie Bremner has been involved in the plans from the start, in 2014, and was thrilled to see the works finally progress.
She said: “Usually, we’d have a turf cutting ceremony to mark this day but due to Covid we’ve got to think outside the box and that’s why we have done the virtual flyovers, in hindsight I think it has done really well as it means people can check it out whenever they want and marks the major start of the project.
“For me, personally it’s wonderful, I took up the post in November 2014 to deliver this project and it’s been a long time in development.
“I’m extremely pleased that we have got to this stage, and that it now gives us certainty that there will be an end, and we will have these facilities open for the benefit of the people in Grampian in 2023.
“We are five months into construction and we are on-programme, despite the rocky weather we had this winter, we are all set to open in 2023.
“This will be wonderful assets for the people of Grampian, both the Baird Family Hospital and the ANCHOR Centre, they are going to benefit two different groups of people.”
The ANCHOR Centre
The ANCHOR Centre is being built on the grounds of the old Eye Clinic at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, with those services now being moved to the hospital.
It will be three-storeys high and include all haematology, oncology and radiotherapy day and outpatient services under one roof and will be directly connected to the existing radiology department.
Mrs Bremner revealed she hoped the ANCHOR Centre would become a ‘weel-kent’ place for those needing cancer treatments.
She added: “The ANCHOR Centre will be the culmination of work ongoing number of years, starting with the building of the radiotherapy centre back in 2013, we are bringing it together with the ANCHOR Centre.
“Patients will come to one place for their treatments, it will be a weel-kent place, keeping up a good relationship with the staff.”
The building will be completed in February, and is set for a May opening.
£17m worth of new equipment needs to be ordered for both facilities.
Carolyn Annand, ANCHOR project nurse, listed some of the benefits the new centre will bring to the north-east.
She said: “At the moment, the services are quite spread out and fragmented across the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary site and are quite old facilities we have at the moment.
“The ANCHOR Centre is going to bring everything together, the oncology, haematology and radiotherapy out-patients and day treatments under one purpose-built facility.
“There’s a lot of improvements, the ambience of the building will feel more comfortable, relaxing and reassuring for patients than what we currently have.
“They will have more space, a greater opportunity for privacy than they currently have, they will have access to natural light and outdoors while they are in having their treatment.
“All these things are what the patients are saying are important.”
The Baird Family Hospital
It is being built on the grounds of the former breast screen centre and the old Foresterhill Health Centre.
The facility will encompass five floors, including a car park, and is named after the Baird family, who made large contributions to medicine in Aberdeen.
Mrs Bremner confirmed that the hospital will bring all the women’s health and baby facilities under one roof.
She said: “The Baird Family Hospital will replace Aberdeen Maternity Hospital, which has been around since the 30s, and isn’t any longer the right environment for the care of women who are set to have a baby.
“We are bringing in all the services from the maternity hospital, which will be demolished, along with breast and gynaecology treatments from ARI.
“These services often overlap so this means we can provide much more co-ordinated.
“One improvement people will be able to see and feel is that the Baird Family Hospital will have 100% single-room ensuite accommodation, which women have told us they are looking forward.
“We want to encourage the fact it’s not just the lady having the baby, the partner is too, so when the bell goes at 8pm at night, it won’t necessarily mean go home dad.
“The birthing partner will be able to stay with mum and baby, day and night.”
Then in 2024, the Aberdeen Maternity Hospital will be demolished, with NHS Grampian having not yet decided what will go there instead.
Margaret Meredith, Baird project nurse, explained why they needed a new hospital.
She said: “The maternity hospital has been there for 48 years and no longer serves the needs of modern patients anymore.
“The design of the Baird Hospital incorporates the maternity hospital but also includes breast and gynaecology services.
“There was a great deal of consultation with health intelligence, included patients, charities and stakeholders, and it was a big collaboration that has taken many years and it is great to see it now coming to fruition, building works are in place we’ve got an entry date of 2023.”