Willmott Dixon is to build a new £2.5 million extension to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

The company has been appointed by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust to double the hospital’s intensive care capacity for newborns, with the unit the only designated newborn intensive care unit covering the Thames Valley (Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire). The contract has been let through the Procure 21+ framework.

The new 410 sq m, two-storey extension, which received planning permission from Oxford City Council in February, will provide an additional ten cots for premature and critically ill babies and will enable the Trust to provide more than twice as much space around each cot, creating an improved environment for the babies, parents and hospital staff.

There will also be a new secure entrance, reception, ward clerk’s office and waiting area for families and a quiet room for parents. Willmott Dixon has started to carry out initial site preparation works ahead of the planned construction start in June. The project is due for completion in early 2013.

Tony McDonald, divisional general manager for Children’s and Women’s Services at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “It has long been our aim to improve the facilities for newborn babies requiring extra care. This will expand the number of intensive care cots here to provide babies and their mothers with the best possible care nearer to home. We are pleased that we are now at the construction stage of our enlarged unit.”

The Newborn Intensive Care Unit extension is the second contract Willmott Dixon has been awarded by this Trust. The company is currently constructing a new £1.3 million extension to the Kadoorie Centre at the John Radcliffe Hospital to provide an additional 350 sq m of desk-based research space for orthopaedic trauma surgery, intensive care medicine, the resuscitation department, emergency medicine and anaesthetics.

The single-storey extension is being built on top of the hospital’s main entrance. Work is due for completion at the end of this year.

Martin Adie, operations director at Willmott Dixon, said: “These are significant projects as they will deliver significant improvements to the hospital and the care it provides to patients and their families. We will be conducting the construction work with due care and attention to minimise disruption to the day-to-day hospital activities.”