Net Zero Neonatal Unit Challenge Winner Announced

On the 75th anniversary of the NHS, young people showcase the future of Healthcare Design

The New Hospital Programme is partnering with social enterprise Class of Your Own, creators of the award-winning Design Engineer Construct! learning programme, to inspire the next generation of healthcare designers, engineers and construction professionals.

The global challenge to design a carbon net zero neonatal unit was launched by Class of Your Own earlier this year. The campaign was kickstarted with the support of NHS staff, the Bliss Charity which supports babies born prematurely and professional bodies from across the construction sector.

Secondary school students were invited to put forward designs that demonstrated great empathy for a range of end users and overcome a range of social and cultural issues.

Judges with winning entry (Left to right_ Natalie Firminger, Daniel O’Leary, Natalie Forrest, Luke Goldfinch and Nicholas Mead) with winning entry

The winning team comprised just one pupil who did all the design work herself, 16 year old Sabina Lacey from Prince of Wales Island International School, Penang, Malaysia.

The challenge focused on carbon net zero design and modern methods of construction; the use of appropriate sustainable materials and energy solutions that lead to safer, better quality, replicable healthcare buildings of the future.

Finalists representing schools from Scotland, England, Jersey, the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia faced a tough panel of judges:

  • Natalie Forrest – Senior Responsible Owner (SRO) for the New Hospital Programme, Department of Health and Social Care
  • Natalie Firminger – Hospital Design and Development Director – Whipps Cross Redevelopment, Barts Health NHS Trust
  • Daniel O’Leary – Clinical Fellow (Maternal Health), New Hospital Programme, NHS England
  • Luke Goldfinch – Senior Engineer, West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust
  • Nicholas Mead – Technical Director – MEICA systems, Laing O’Rourke Europe

The winning team – a team of just one pupil – was announced today (Wednesday July 5) at a special House of Lords event hosted by former Education Minister Lord Jim Knight and Class of Your Own Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Alison Watson MBE – appropriately celebrating the talents of former Design Engineer Construct! students, all at different stages in their own professional careers.

Natalie Forrest

Announcing the winner, New Hospital Programme SRO, Natalie Forrest said: “Congratulations to all entrants. This is a very tough challenge and the standard was so high. Clearly this team of one had done some extraordinary research to ensure her design met, or even surpassed, the demanding criteria. A big ‘well done’ to Sabina Lacey, from Prince of Wales Island International School in Penang, Malaysia – and I hope this inspires you to consider a career in healthcare design.

“As we celebrate the NHS’s 75th birthday today it is important we don’t just look back at everything we have achieved, we must look to the future and consider what the very best patient care will look like in years to come. Having the best and brightest minds working in healthcare design will play an important role in creating the infrastructure we need.”

Sabina Lacey will meet with real professionals working on New Hospital Programme projects to take her design to an industry-standard digital model.

In celebration of 75 years of the NHS, Class of Your Own and the New Hospital Programme will now work to develop further programmes for schools, especially those in the vicinity of New Hospital Programme projects.

Alison Watson MBE

Class of Your Own Founder Alison Watson said: “It has been really inspiring to watch such young people working together on people and planet-focused healthcare solutions.

“As usual, they’ve exceeded all expectations and this recognition for Sabina Lacey and other young people who took part is a fitting way to celebrate the next 75 years of our world-respected NHS. Huge thanks to all the professionals who have been extremely supportive in developing and supporting this programme and I so look forward to working with them in the future in schools across the country – and around the world.”

In celebration of 75 years of the NHS, Class of Your Own, the New Hospital Programme and leading construction companies specialising in healthcare design will now develop a suite of specialist healthcare programmes for schools. These specialist DEC (Design, Engineer Construct!) Awards will launch in the autumn term 2023.

You’ll find more information on the Challenge and Class Of Your Own by visiting:

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