NHS Nightingale - a positive story for construction

It has not been an easy few weeks for the construction industry and its reputation.

Confusion caused by regularly changing advice from government led to an industry in limbo, split between those continuing to work on site and those who closed down or instructed staff to work from home.

For those sites that stayed open, we saw reports of staff being verbally abused and a backlash from workers who were being told to go to work, despite social distancing rules.

It hasn’t done the industry’s reputation any favours (we talked about this in a post last week). Which makes the story of NHS Nightingale all the more worth celebrating.

A hospital in nine days

There are times in any crisis where people pull together and do something exceptional. For the construction industry, the NHS Nightingale Hospital programme represents one of those moments.

It started with London’s Excel, which was converted from a conference centre into a temporary hospital within nine days. It was a huge achievement. Architects from BDP were designing in real time, with plans going straight to consultants and contractors on site (including Mace and CFES). Extra support was provided by the MoD. With hundreds on site, accuracy and clarity were crucial.

If it ever operates at its full capacity the NHS Nightingale Hospital London will be one of the largest hospitals in the world, with 4,000 beds across 80 wards.

It shows the best of what construction has to offer – creativity, flexibility and collaboration, underpinned by successful delivery.

Good news builds good reputations

These kinds of news stories are essential when it comes to building a positive reputation. The construction industry needs to make sure that it tells the story of this project and others like it. We need to be proud of these moments.

There will be many examples of positivity and the media wants to hear about them. So, if your company is still active and doing something of merit relating to the coronavirus crisis, now is the time to share it. You may even inspire others to join in (and in the case of the first NHS Nightingale, offer help to people who want to replicate the success, with BDP creating an instruction manual for others to follow).

Some examples are below, to get you thinking. Perhaps you have a similar story to tell?

  • Conversion of conference centres or stadia into temporary hospitals or relief centres
  • Tradespeople carrying out emergency maintenance and repair for residential communities
  • Software companies providing free training, support and licences for people who are now working from home
  • Logistics companies offering their fleet to deliver essential supplies
  • Manufacturers adapting their machinery to provide key items such as PPE or ventilators
  • Social landlords offering support measures for residents affected by coronavirus, such as rent breaks

Image via BDP

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About the Author: Dan Gerrella

Dan is an associate director at LMC. He is a Chartered PR Practitioner who has spent his career in the property and construction sector, providing strategic PR and marketing advice to companies and organisations in the UK and internationally.

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