Hospital building to be evacuated after fire safety report

Hospital building to be evacuated after fire safety report

OVER 50 patients are to be evacuated from John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford after a fire safety report ‘found their lives were at risk’.

Oxford Mail reported on the evacuation, which saw trauma patients evacuated due to the report’s findings, which included ‘cladding, insufficient fire breaks between floors and vulnerable patients being unable to get out quick enough during a fire’. 52 patients will be evacuated from the trauma unit on Friday, just over a week after Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH) ‘received recommendations from a report it had commissioned into fire safety’.

This report was the result of investigations ‘across its buildings’ and followed the national reaction to the Grenfell Tower fire. It has been written by local fire industry company Trenton Fire, though ‘full details have not yet been received’, with the trust unable to provide information to the news outlet relating to cladding.

The evacuation announcement means that ‘in the next three days, the trust will have to find 36 beds’ to move the trauma patients into, while ‘specialised equipment’ will also need to be moved ‘across two wards in the main hospital building’. Professor George Smith, chairman of Healthwatch Oxford, stated that the report ‘needed to be made public immediately’, as it is a ‘public building and it affects everybody in the region, we need to see the full facts. The trust have paid for the report, they own it’.

Changes to the building are expected to ‘take a year’ once patients ‘have been safely moved to other areas of the hospital’, with Dr Tony Berendt, medical director of OUH, stating the trust was ‘disappointed’ in the report’s findings, but was ‘doing all it could’ to make the building safe. He noted that ‘what the report identifies is that there are measures to stop a fire spreading on a single floor but the measures we would want to have in place to stop a fire jumping from floor to floor are not there.

‘Following what happened at Grenfell Tower we looked at how to get patients evacuated from the building and this now needs to be looked at in a completely different light, we just cannot get them out quick enough if a fire were to happen. Keeping patients in the unit while we fix the problem is not a possibility for us’.

He added: ‘We will be training staff to undertake basic fire control measures so that they are not waiting for the fire service to arrive. We have an agreement with the fire service that if a fire did break out they would not just send one response vehicle but would send a whole fleet so they could tackle the fire.’

The trust has three other buildings identified as ‘needing further examination’, including offices used by staff at the John Radcliffe and the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, as well as the Pet Crick Building on another hospital site in the city.