COVER STORY: New fast-track operating theatres at Addenbrooke’s

Three new orthopaedic operating theatres built at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge by MTX using Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) are playing a leading role in a national scheme to deliver more than 50 new surgical hubs across England.

The Cambridge Movement Surgical Hub is designed to increase orthopaedic capacity at Addenbrooke's Hospital by 20%, to around 2,700 procedures a year. It includes three new operating theatres and links to two adjacent COVID legacy wards that have been upgraded by MTX to become HTM compliant, in order to provide 40 dedicated surgical beds for patients undergoing planned orthopaedic surgery.

MTX employed MMC principles to deliver faster, greener, safer and more cost-effective completion of the project. The single-storey facility housing the new theatres has been created using 64 precisely engineered steel modules manufactured off-site. They were assembled with concrete floor screeds poured to deliver the required response factor for optimum surgical efficiency.

Once the structural stage was complete, internal and external finishing was undertaken, with fit-out using mechanical, electrical and plumbing modules designed and manufactured for assembly on site, and installation of furniture, fittings and other equipment. The systems were 95% complete offsite, providing a high level of PMV.

The new theatres will be used primarily for orthopaedic operations to help cut waiting lists for routine orthopaedic operations such as knee and hip replacements. They connect with dedicated wards to provide 40 surgical beds for patients recovering from planned operations. MTX upgraded the ventilation systems for the linked wards originally built in 2021 as part of the COVID-19 response. The work also involved working around the existing VIE Plant and Substation, while constructing an AHU enclosure over a swale in the existing courtyard area. Existing foundations were utilised for the wrap-around ward modules.

The overall size of new building is more than 3800m², including the self-contained plant room located on top of the new unit. This houses seven air handling units to serve the three theatres and deliver the clean air so vital for rapid recovery of orthopaedic surgery patients.

As the main contractor, MTX has worked with multiple partners to create the new operating theatres, including Howorth Air Technology, which supplied and commissioned the clean air systems within the theatres, and supplied the medical gases and services pendants. Bender UK provided medical IT critical power systems, and the operating lamps are by Maquet.

The site of the new operating theatres is close to the hospital's helipad, so special care was taken in designing site movements and in the use of cranes to lift into place the premanufactured structural steel modules. MTX has extensive experience of minimising impact on existing clinical services and patients while working in busy locations within hospital sites, and worked closely with other construction companies located around the site to produce effective logistics and movement plans.

NHS Trusts are increasingly using Modern Methods of Construction to provide new facilities in shorter time scales. MTX Managing Director, David Hartley, explains: "Operating theatres and other facilities created for NHS Trusts by MTX are specifically engineered for medical use. The unit at Addenbrooke's Hospital is equipped with ventilation systems designed to optimise clean air flow and meet clinical needs.

"Our expertise in more effectively applying MMC principles is proven to deliver compliant high quality new hospital facilities more quickly and cost effectively, ensuring an earlier return on investment for the Trust, and improved outcomes for patients."

Addenbrooke's Hospital is an internationally renowned teaching hospital and research centre, with strong affiliations to the University of Cambridge. It is based on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus and is run by Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH).

The new network of surgical hubs across England will focus mainly on providing high volume low complexity surgery, as recommended by the Royal College of Surgeons. Improving quality and efficiency means patients have shorter waits for surgery, are more likely to go home on the same day, and are less likely to need additional treatment.

Andrew McCaskie is a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at CUH, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Cambridge, and leads research and training for the new Cambridge Movement Surgical Hub. He explained: "The dedicated space and innovative care pathways within the Cambridge Movement Surgical Hub will make a huge difference for the many hundreds of patients who are waiting long periods of time for their surgery, often living in pain and struggling to stay active.

"In addition, the hub will help those with bone and joint disease more widely, by greatly facilitating our research and innovation into current and future treatments."

The new surgical hub has created a useable legacy from emergency COVID-19 accommodation; utilising and enhancing existing structures to create compliant space to support the new state-of-the-art operating theatres. The hub will be used primarily for orthopaedic operations, as part of the government's national scheme to provide a total of around 100 more operating theatres and 1,000 more beds. In total, it is estimated the new hubs will deliver almost two million extra routine operations to reduce waiting lists over the next three years, backed by £1.5 billion in government funding.

For pre-construction enquiries, please call 0800 138 3541 or email

About MTX

MTX is a Cheshire-based construction and engineering company specialising in the use of innovative Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) to deliver advanced fast-track building solutions to the NHS and private healthcare sector throughout the UK.

MTX has partnered with the NHS for more than 40 years, providing vital specialist facilities and ward accommodation for hospitals and during that time has created more than 300 operating theatres and 2500 compliant bed spaces.

MTX continues to refine its innovative MMC solutions in line with the latest Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) principles. Quality is maintained, waste is reduced by up to 60% and delivery is faster, greener and more cost-effective. Time on site is reduced by up to 50% with steel-framed building components manufactured off-site under factory conditions while at the same time sub-structures are prepared on site, shortening the overall programme.   


See more about MTX Contracts Limited

Latest Issues

AfPP Annual Conference 2024

University of Warwick
2nd - 3rd August 2024

The Operating Theatres North Show 2024

Etihad Stadium, Manchester
12th September 2024

The AfPP Roadshow - London

Cavendish Conference Centre, London
14th September 2024

Infection Prevention 2024

ICC Birmingham
23rd - 25th September 2024

Future Surgery

ExCeL London
1st - 2nd October 2024