More than 1,300 people answered a job advert for carpenters, labourers, joiners and shop fitters to work at Darwin Group, in Shawbury, building emergency hospital units to combat the virus.
From its manufacturing centre, wards for more than 150 new beds will be built using the companies advanced modular design system. The manufacturing centre will be working virtually 24 hours a day seven days a week to get the buildings delivered in the shortest possible time.
The buildings will be going to three NHS trusts in England in the North West, Midlands and Home Counties regions.
The building modules will be transported to the three sites, from the Shropshire manufacturing centre, where the Darwin installation and site completion teams will commission the wards for use. The whole process is expected to take around nine to 10 weeks.
A company spokesman said: “We wouldn’t be able to achieve this without the full support of our manufacturing, site and office staff who have been magnificent in stepping up to this challenge.”
The company said it has also engaged specialist local suppliers to provide a full hot and cold meal service for the workers, as well as a specialist cleaning company to provide “the highest level of cleanliness and sanitisation practical in the workplace”, in an effort to protect staff as far as possible, while still providing an absolutely essential service.
An advert for the jobs on Facebook placed by Shrewsbury recruitment firm Team 4 You yesterday received an unprecedented response, with operations director Nick Lewis revealing they had taken more than 1,390 calls and hundreds of emails.
He said it was a great response and had included all manner of people wanting to help, including one 76-year-old retired carpenter.
Mr Lewis said they would be keeping all the details of the people who had been in contact and would be matching their skills ready for when they need more workers.
The developments come as the government is looking to increase capacity for intensive care units to treat people most seriously affected by coronavirus.
Yesterday Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced the construction of a 4,000-bed hospital at the ExCel centre in London, with 500 to be ready in a matter of days.
The Darwin Group’s website explains its track record in providing buildings for the NHS, saying: “Darwin Group are one of the UK’s most reliable and trusting providers of modular healthcare buildings, with considerable experience in delivering permanent solutions for a wide range of healthcare needs to clients in both the public and private sector; including ward accommodation, outpatient care and walk in centres.
“Using the latest construction techniques Darwin Group Ltd can deliver outstanding facilities at an exceptionally affordable price in a time scale that suits you. Completing every build with minimum disruption, and maximum infection control to ensure the safety of patients, staff and visitors at all times.”
The firm has a wealth of experience building modular hospital buildings, with its website stating: “Darwin Group have been awarded more than 20 projects through the NHS SBS Modular Buildings Framework over the last 2 years. We have also been awarded places on all five lots applied for on the Crown Commercial Services (CCS) Modular Buildings Framework. Our position on these frameworks is testament to our experience and the quality of construction services we are able to offer.”
The firm also built a 24-bed acute medical unit for Wye Valley NHS Trust at Hereford County Hospital.
Source: Shropshire Star