The site of the new Norfolk and Norwich Hospital (pictured left and below) regularly pays host to coachloads of its future staff, inspecting the £214m campus-style hospital they will be moving into in January 2002.

There's plenty for them to see. Seventeen months into a four-year construction programme, the seven ward blocks, twin outpatient centres and diagnostic and treatment central 'spine' are virtually structurally complete.

Currently, 500 workers are on-site installing the partitioning that will transform 90,000m2 of clear space into 4,500 rooms.

In fact, contractor Laing is six weeks ahead of schedule on the largest PFI hospital on-site to date. So far, none of the risk factors identified before financial close have clouded the process.

Chief among them were Laing's worries about attracting and retaining sufficient labour. As it turned out, the contractor found it relatively easy to recruit site operatives and local sub-contractors.

Laing has also worked hard to maintain good relations with the three unions on-site, to lessen the risk of stoppages or bonus demands. But it could face difficulties once the installation of pipework and cabling begins and specialist skills have to be imported.

The skills of electricians and fitters are in demand throughout the industry, and they could follow the example of colleagues on the Jubilee line extension or the Royal Opera House project in pursuing a better deal.

Medical planning - where clinicians from 70 departments specified the hospital's detailed design - could also have proved risky for Laing if it had miscalculated demand. But the 14-month process has now been completed without a hitch. And bad weather is less of a problem now that the new buildings are roofed in.