Plans submitted for a new high-tech anatomy centre at UEA

Published: 27-Nov-2023

Future healthcare professionals in the region could soon be benefitting from state-of-the-art, fully accessible anatomy training facilities at the University of East Anglia (UEA)

With a focus on practical anatomical teaching for medical and allied Health Professions’ students, the centre will provide increased capacity and high-tech teaching and learning spaces for current and future healthcare professionals. The facility will support the recruitment and retention of highly skilled health care professionals both regionally and nationally, enhancing the advancement of their knowledge and skills. 

In line with the Government’s recent announcements in the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, UEA is fully supporting the need for increased recruitment into key NHS roles and the development of skills. 
The current Anatomy Suite, located within the Queens Building on campus, has been in operation for over 20 years and during that time has undergone three upgrades – the last of which took place in 2013. The current facility totals 335m², including 133m² of teaching space and 112m² of storage. 

The current Anatomy Suite is registered with the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) and with changes to Health and Safety legislation relating to exposure to formaldehyde set to come into law in 2024, it is essential that UEA remains compliant with legal developments for the health and safety of staff and students. This would not be possible within the constraints of the current facility, but with support from the Office for Students and University funding, UEA is able to comply with essential developments, whilst supporting growth and sustainability for the NHS.  

The new Anatomy Suite will meet the University’s needs in a variety of ways, including increased capacity for teaching and the additional provision of courses at undergraduate, post graduate and specialist training levels. The new centre will provide flexibility to react to technological changes in teaching methods, sitting alongside the immersive training facilities within the Edith Cavell Building (ECB), and be compliant with essential updates to health and safety legislation and embalming methods. 

Charles ffrench-Constant, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, UEA Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, said: “Our anatomy teaching facilities have been at the heart of our healthcare student training for two decades and it’s now wonderful to be able to fully modernise this vital part of our buildings to increase the number of students we can train and provide them with state-of-the-art facilities.” 

After extensive feasibility testing, it was clear that finding a new location for the Anatomy Suite would deliver the greatest benefits - both financially and in terms of the quality of service offered to staff, students and the wider NHS workforce.  

Initially, two sites were shortlisted to consider for the new Anatomy Suite, the first as an extension to ECB on Norwich Research Park (NRP), and the second as an extension to the recently completed New Science Building on East Campus. ECB was chosen as the preferred location for a number of reasons: 

- Co-location between UEA and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) 

- There is existing planning permission in place, dating from 2005, which allows for an expansion to the current building  

- The extension maximises the potential of the ECB site 

The new Anatomy Suite will be operational by April 2025, offering 390m2 of anatomy teaching space, seminar rooms, an immersive teaching space, improved preparation areas for both staff and students and associated storage and academic office facilities. In total, the centre will offer significantly more and desperately needed space for innovative teaching and practical skills development supporting growth in the NHS workforce.  

At this time, the planning permission submission will be for a full scope of works, including a first-floor extension and a further ground floor extension, although these will not be constructed in the initial building phase. 

With an increase in demand forecast for courses, outlined in the NHS Long-Term Workforce Plan, the Anatomy Suite will serve current and future healthcare professionals on courses including the MB BS and MSc Physician Associate Studies, Nursing, Physiotherapy, and Paramedic Science. In addition, the Centre will provide numerous postgraduate opportunities, specialist training programmes and the growth in research supporting development and improvements to the national healthcare provision.   

This development will ensure that UEA can continue to serve the needs of students and NHS partners well into the future.  

Stephen Chapman, Senior Faculty Manager, UEA Medicine and Health Sciences, said: “The new Anatomy Suite will be a worldwide exemplar facility incorporating current best practices, and it will also increase our capacity in terms of the variety of courses we are able to offer. Meeting the targets of the NHS Workforce Plan requires major increases in student numbers for courses that require experience with the anatomy suite, and this development ensures that we can meet that demand so benefitting the population of our region.”  

Funding for the new Anatomy Suite has come primarily through a successful grant application of £5.7m supported by the Office for Students, with an additional contribution likely to be in the region of £800k from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, through funds ringfenced exclusively for use on capital development projects, matched by a similar amount from the University. 

Charles ffrench-Constant, said: “We were delighted to win a grant from the Office for Students which will cover the majority of costs for this development.”  

An invitation to tender went out to several specialist companies in December 2022, with LSI Architects being appointed to work on the design of the new Anatomy Suite. Work is expected to commence on the building, subject to planning permission being granted, in May 2024. 

Peter Durrant, Director at LSI, said: “As a design team, we have enjoyed working very closely with the Anatomy team and wider UEA stakeholders to design a new facility that will be at the forefront of new ways of teaching and will be one of the first facilities in the country to meet the new standards set by the World Health Organisation.” 

Relevant companies

You may also like