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Reliable Power for New Cancer Unit

Europe’s largest oncology wing which opened at St James’ University Hospital in Leeds in December 2007 is a major Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract valued at £232 million, designed to provide much needed additional cancer care for the city and surrounding areas. As with any hospital project, the electricity supply is critical and the power distribution network must be wholly and unequivocally reliable.

For this reason, the prime consultants Faber Maunsell elected to use equipment from Schneider Electric for the electrical system.

Catalyst Healthcare, a PFI hospital consortium led by Bovis Lend Lease and the Royal Bank of Scotland, created the funding for the new centre that will revolutionise cancer care in Yorkshire. Previously, cancer treatment facilities were geographically fragmented and housed in buildings in need of modernising. The construction of the new wing allows for the pooling of medical resources and the concentration of high technology specialist equipment.

The new building has become a major civic landmark with 11 storeys and over 65,000m2 of floor space. It has over 300 inpatient beds for specialist cancer treatment including radiotherapy, chemotherapy, haematology and a number of surgical specialties together with a full range of diagnostic, day care and outpatient services. It will also boast the latest technologies including 10 linear accelerators.

In conjunction with Rotary Yorkshire, Schneider Electric Services and Projects won the contract in a competitive tender and worked closely with Faber Maunsell in designing the system, completing protection studies and specifying the equipment. The Services and Projects team also undertook the management, installation and commissioning of the primary electrical distribution system. Schneider Electric took responsibility for both the main and the standby power supplies and included stand by generator sets in its installation.

The primary distribution equipment centred around Ringmaster ring main units (RMUs) from Merlin Gerin, a brand of Schneider Electric. These field proven units have thousands of installations in the UK and a track record of reliability that cannot be matched. These were coupled with cast resin transformers designed specifically for indoor use in large buildings.

Low voltage switchboards and the final distribution boards were also from Square D. Significantly, the Services and Projects team elected to use the Square D range of automatic changeover switches in the system.

These source changeover switches, designed around two or three devices, guarantee, in a compact space, continuity of supply of some loads for safety reasons or to maintain critical power. In the St James’ Hospital installation automatic switching of the main energy source is to a replacement source. This is proven technology for the likes of operating theatres of hospitals.

Completing the installation were various rising main busbar and distribution busbar solutions and ancillaries for power quality, such as the inclusion of harmonic filters.

Professor Peter Selby, clinical director for the Leeds Cancer Centre, has been quoted as saying: “The new wing is a wonderful development for patients within the Yorkshire Cancer Network, which will mean that their care will be provided in excellent, state-of-the-art surroundings that are as good as anywhere in Western Europe.”


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