Macmillan Unit, Ulster Hospital, Dundonald

Hugh J O’Boyle Ltd and team pulls out all the stops to deliver time-critical chemotherapy facility for Ulster Hospital...

Long-established and experienced Construction and Civil Engineering Contractor, Hugh J O’Boyle (HJOB) Ltd was entrusted with delivering a £3.75million state-of-the-art Chemotherapy unit with purpose-built assessment and treatment areas, satellite pharmacy and a Macmillan support centre for the Ulster Hospital.

The project comprised a Macmillan Environmental Improvement plan, Information Centre and Chemotherapy unit, redesign of the existing centre along with M&E installations, site works and alterations.

The scheme involved the refurbishment of existing Wards 23/24 and the vertical extension of same within the Care of the Elderly block to form the new Chemotherapy and Macmillan Cancer support centre. Wards 23/24 were sited on Level 1 of an existing three-storey block. The existing wards and fire escape staircase had to remain operational throughout the works. As well as building works, there was also external surfacing and landscape works to create a more welcoming entrance point for building users.

There were also significant structural alterations within Wards 23/24 and the basement levels of the block to ensure the increased loadings from the new extension could be met. 

The experienced team from HJOB overcame a number of challenges on the complex project, explained Kevin Fitzsimons, Contracts Manager. “The most significant challenge was working in an occupied building, to which we had to partly remove the existing roof structure to build the new floor above. This all happened while the hospital ward below continued to operate normally throughout our Contract period.

“We also had to deal with a number of the existing services, which could not be removed in their entirety until very late in the contract as they were serving a number of wards outside our works area. This could not have been done as smoothly without the help of South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust Project Manager, Greg McDougall, and the Estates team.”

The project started just before the first Covid-19 pandemic lockdown in March 2020, and was affected in many ways afterwards by the effects of the pandemic on both labour and supply of materials. “We all had to adjust to a new way of working during the construction period. However, everyone embraced the new working methods and overcame any issues that were presented,” said Kevin.

This resulted in many activities having to be constructed out of sequence and in slightly different ways to keep the job moving forward. “These changes to the programme – and sometimes materials – could not have been easily carried out without our close working relationship with our clients’ representatives and the in-depth knowledge of the project architect Conor McCavitt from Whittaker & Watt architects,” said Kevin.

He added, “We have an excellent reputation, earned over many years of handing over prestigious projects, all completed to a high standard. This scheme, delivered during challenging times, ranks as a project that we are extremely proud to have been involved in and take immense satisfaction in delivering to the Trust and Macmillan.

“It is a critical facility, and we knew from the moment we were awarded this major contract that we had a challenge on our hands, but we immediately set about establishing critical paths in our programme and sourcing our supply chain, materials and products to be able to deliver on a time critical project.

“We feel privileged to have been involved as part of an excellent team, we were all extremely focused on delivering this facility to an extremely high standard. We are extremely proud of what we have achieved.”

Project team…
Client: South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust
Main Contractor: Hugh J. O’Boyle Ltd
Architects: Whittaker & Watt
Project Manager: Greg McDougall (SEHSCT)
Mechanical Contractor: Devlin Mechanical Limited
Electrical Contractor: KMDL Engineering (NI)

Hugh J. O’Boyle Ltd, 1 The Green, Irish Street, Downpatrick, Co. Down BT30 6BE
T: +44 (0)28 4461 2278



Surespan – providing a safe solution to smoke, access, fire and escape hatches since 1969…

Ulster Hospital’s new Macmillan Unit is the latest project to benefit from Surespan’s full access package for smoke, access, fire and escape. 

With head offices in Walsall, West Midlands and an international network of distributors and partners, Surespan provides one of the most diverse product portfolios covering all means of access and escape.

For the specialist chemotherapy unit at Dundonald, Surespan supplied four, 1500 x 1500 thermally broken and insulated smoke ventilators providing 1.47m2 geometric free area – all tested, certified and CE Marked to EN12101-2. A roof access hatch system was also manufactured complete with fixed external handhold for safe access, internal and external locking retractable ZIP ladder and ceiling trap door. Finally, an additional electric operated retractable ladder was supplied for plant room access. Push a button and the ladder opens automatically.

Surespan has a passionate and dedicated team of 65 staff, manufacturing and distributing not just roof hatches but floor access doors, rooflights, ladders, access panels, and even providing a cut-to-size aluminium chequer plate service. The long-standing sales team provides assistance and technical advice with a combined experience of over 80 years.

The access specialist manufactures high-quality products that have been independently tested by BRE, whether for IP rating for water and dust ingress, air permeability, weather tightness, or even fire rating (up to four hours). Surespan manufacturing processes have also been independently tested to BS EN ISO9001 and UL-EU Approved.

UK Head Office: +44 (0)1922 711185
Dublin branch: +353 (0)87 2597703.

ASCL Scaffolding

ASCL Scaffolding recently completed the refurbishment and new-build elements of the £3m Ulster Hospital Chemotherapy Unit, which will have a major impact on cancer services and raise standards of quality care being delivered in the future.

The Ballyclare-based scaffolding experts met and exceeded the high safety and programme demands expected by its client, Hugh J O’Boyle Ltd.

The Ulster Hospital project features a new chemotherapy unit with purpose-built assessment and treatment areas, a satellite pharmacy and a Macmillan support centre. This unique building provides welcoming, uplifting spaces that support the comfort and wellbeing of patients, from its bright terraces and local artwork, to the treatment area, which offers bespoke, comfortable chemotherapy chairs and uninterrupted views from Scrabo Tower to the Castlereagh Hills.

A proportion of the project was delivered during Covid-19 lockdowns and the ASCL team stepped up to maintain the programme safety, remaining within budget and operating with full awareness of the health and wellbeing not only of themselves, but other teams on site and the general public.

T: +44 (0)28 9334 0044

Bedwin Soft Furnishing

Kilkeel-based Bedwin Soft Furnishing, manufactured, supplied and fitted a range of specialist cubicle tracking and roller blinds for the new Macmillan Unit at Ulster Hospital.

Specifically, the family firm was tasked with providing Kestral® Anti-Ligature Cubicle track for patient privacy and safety. Bedwin Soft Furnishing is one of a select few Northern Irish firms that is qualified to bend, assemble and fit this specialist tracking. 

In addition, Kestral®Anti Ligature Roller Blinds, standard chain operated roller blinds and hardwired motorised roller blinds were fabricated and fitted. The latter was designed to be concealed in the ceiling within Blind Space – a specialised box section.

“Hospitals are never a nice place for anyone to have to attend,” said Chris Wallace, Sales Director, “if we can utilise our experience and knowledge in sun shading to improve the patient experience, then that makes us proud.”

Awarded the Framework for supplying and fitting blinds and cubicle tracks for the NHS across Northern Ireland in 2021, Bedwin Soft Furnishing continues to invest in new tech; from heat sealing PVC blinds which reduces stitching and therefore limits the risk of bacteria to commissioning an ultra sonic cutting table which avoids material edge fraying.

T: +44 (0)28 4176 3284

Croob Engineering

Croob Engineering was awarded the general metalwork package for the Macmillan Unit project at the Ulster Hospital. With this came major challenges, from design, to engineering, to aesthetics.

Based outside Castlewellan, Co. Down, Croob Engineering Ltd has been involved in the steel industry for many years, expanding into a competitive market within Ireland.

Gabriel Farrell of Croob Engineering said, “We like to involve ourselves right at the outset of a project and work with the architect, engineer and client to help bring solutions to the table and make the dream a reality,” explained Gabriel. “All come with the understanding that deadlines are paramount.”

Commenting on the project, Gabriel added, “We worked closely with both contractor and client to provide an innovative design to comply with regulations and the initial remit. Our Site Manager, Darren McMullan, who is also the company MD, ensured the project ran smoothly. The end result is a project that Croob Engineering is proud of.”

T: +44 (0)28 4377 8985

Dougan Contracts

Specialist joinery firm, Dougan Contracts designed, fabricated and supplied feature slatted oak ceilings for the Macmillan Unit project at Ulster Hospital, Dundonald.

Design of the ceilings had to factor in the need to keep the weight of the overall structure down and had to allow for access to M+E and ventilation services above the installation. All products were also upgraded with a fire-retardant application. 

Established in 1986, Dougan Contracts is a people-centred specialist joinery company based in Bangor, County Down. Using traditional working processes, hard graft and state-of-the-art machinery, the talented team is equipped for every challenge.

This second-generation family, business has built upon a legacy of specialist joinery started by Billy Dougan from humble beginnings in the family garage. 

Commenting on the Macmillan unit, Director, Ryan Dougan said, “We are very proud to have worked alongside a great team on a project that is helping the people of Northern Ireland with a new state-of-the-art chemotherapy facility.” 

T: +44 (0)28 9145 3377

KMDL Engineering (NI)

KMDL Engineering (NI) Ltd drew on their vast experience of health sector projects to complete the full electrical installation works for the new Macmillan Chemotherapy Unit, Ulster Hospital, Dundonald.

The scope of electrical installation works included: the installation of new main switchboard, sub switchboards, Casambi Lighting controls, power systems, door access equipment, CCTV, intruder alarm, nurse call, medical trunking, ventilation wiring, fire alarm and disabled refuge systems. Covid-19 working restrictions were a challenge. Ken Maginty, Director for KMDL said, “We put extra procedures in place and reduced the number of men on site to meet the new requirements.” Another complex issue involved the co-ordination and installation of services into the restrictive ceiling space. “We worked closely with our mechanical colleagues to find a strategy to overcome this challenge,” added Ken.

Commenting on the completed project, Ken said, “We are delighted to be involved in delivering such a prestigious centre for Macmillan. We enjoy the complex nature of health sector installations and we have the team with the experience and skill to rise to all challenges faced on such projects.”

T: +44 (0)28 9045 7197

Whittaker & Watt Architects

Whittaker & Watt Architects acted as Project Delivery Architects for the new Macmillan Unit at the Ulster Hospital, taking the project from RIBA stage 2 to 7. The fully glazed roof top extension was the most technically difficult aspect of the project due to the requirement to place this on top of an existing 1960s block which had significant weight restrictions. The Whittaker & Watt team utilised a lightweight structure and vertical fin curtain walling system to reduce weight yet maintain the original visual concept. The deep mullions were capped with matching deep transoms at the top and bottom of the façade. Project Architect Conor McCavitt explained, “We wanted to express the mullions as a separate horizontal band to the transom. Therefore, we introduced a 50mm gap at the head and base to give the appearance of separate elements. “We had early discussions with the curtain-walling manufacturer, APS, with regard to the detailing of the system and how it would interface with the existing building and structural frame.”

Commenting on the completed project, Director Jason Bosket said, “It is very satisfying to see the staff and patients now using the finished building, albeit we would prefer that no-one visited this type of centre. The project was technically difficult, and we are very proud of the effort everyone gave to achieve the final product.”

T: +44 (0)28 9084 1029