• Torbay and South Devon Foundation Trust in legal battle with chartered surveyors
  • Trust claiming £350,000 in damages
  • Refurbishment to operating theatre caused inadequate ventilation system, says trust

An integrated acute and community trust has taken a construction consultancy to court after an alleged botched refurbishment of a hospital.

Torbay and South Devon Foundation Trust is seeking £350,000 in damages from Haldons Ltd, a West Country based surveying company, after alleging breaches of contract in relation to work carried out on Tavistock Hospital.

In 2014, the Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care Trust (which was acquired in 2015 by South Devon Healthcare FT to become Torbay and South Devon FT) hired Haldons to design and oversee the refurbishment of the hospital’s operating suite, which included replacing an old air handling unit.

But, shortly after Haldons declared the work complete, the trust said the operating suite was not safe for patients, mainly due to problems with the air handling unit.

These included:

  • inadequate and unsafe air flows and air pressures;
  • inadequate protection of sterile and clean areas in the suite from air flows through open doorways; and
  • a deterioration of the suite’s ventilation system.

According to papers filed at the Technology and Construction Court (TCC), the poor air flows forced the closure of the operating suite’s preparation area, and – a year later – the closure of the unit itself.

It meant the trust was forced to refer patients to Livewell South West, a community interest company, which provides community care in the area.

The CIC later took over the hospital and part-funded a £900,000 refurbishment of the operating suite with Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group in the autumn of 2016.

The case was heard at the TCC on Friday and remains ongoing.

The trust, which has begun a search for a strategic estates partner from the private sector, said it would not be appropriate to comment while the case is active.

Haldons did not respond to HSJ’s requests for a comment.

On its website the company states it “provides high quality professional construction consultancy services to businesses of all sizes”.

It has offices in Bristol, Exeter, Torquay, Plymouth, and Truro.