Hospitals: Insulation

Department of Health written question – answered on 10th July 2017.

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Photo of Jon Ashworth Jon Ashworth Shadow Secretary of State for Health

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, how many hospitals have been identified which are clad with (a) material similar to the Grenfell Tower and (b) other fire-risk material; what remedial work has been carried out on those hospitals; and whether additional funding will be provided by the Government to ensure remedial work on those hospitals is not met from existing NHS budgets.

Photo of Jon Ashworth Jon Ashworth Shadow Secretary of State for Health

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what instructions his Department have provided to NHS bodies related to fire safety checks; and whether all hospitals in England have been fire assessed.

Photo of Jon Ashworth Jon Ashworth Shadow Secretary of State for Health

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what data the Government collects centrally on whether standard fire safety checks around building structures, escape routes, fire alarms and sprinklers are up to date across all NHS sites.

Photo of Philip Dunne Philip Dunne The Minister of State, Department of Health

The National Health Service estate encompasses a huge, varied and complex set of buildings and facilities. Currently annual running costs of the NHS estates are over £8 billion, and NHS providers also spend some £3 billion annually on capital investment, in particular on maintaining and improving their estates and infrastructure. The use of resources to find and remedy fire safety issues remains an absolute priority.

As part of the response to the tragic events at Grenfell Tower, actions have been implemented across the NHS to assess the risks of similar issues and ensure that the NHS estate is safe.

Fire safety checks of NHS facilities are regularly undertaken in line with legislation and guidance. Hospitals are well prepared – each one has a tailored fire safety plan, which includes assessment of the provision of fire safety precautions including alarms and evacuation plans. But nothing is more important than the safety of patients and staff, so on a precautionary basis we asked all hospitals to conduct additional checks. Jim Mackey, Chief Executive of NHS Improvement instigated inspections by local fire and rescue services on 24 June 2017.

All NHS trusts and foundation trusts were asked to carry out urgent fire safety checks following the Grenfell Tower fire. All NHS trusts have provided assurance that they have undertaken a fire risk assessment in the past 12 months.

NHS Improvement has identified 38 organisations requiring support to carry out urgent checks to ascertain if they had cladding similar to that used on the Grenfell Tower. All 38 of these ‘priority 1’ trusts have started 24-hour fire warden patrols. As of 6 July, of those trusts and foundation trusts:

- 19 have had fire safety inspections and a review of additional technical information supplied to NHS Improvement and no further action is necessary at this stage;

- 16 are not required to take further action at this stage as the building material sampled is not aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding;

- samples of ACM cladding taken from three providers have failed combustibility tests;

- The three providers that have failed ACM tests are taking all necessary steps to ensure the safety of those buildings and occupants, in line with updated fire safety guidance issued by NHS Improvement. Of these three providers:

- a test sample taken from an office building at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust failed an ACM fire safety test. The Trust has already removed the cladding as a precautionary measure. This was not a building used by patients;

- Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust is taking steps to remove cladding from one of its buildings following a failed ACM test result. The building is not used for inpatient accommodation and measures are being put in place to ensure the safety of the building while the ACM is removed; and

- samples from a building at North Middlesex University Hospitals NHS Trust have also failed the ACM combustibility test. The cladded areas do not house any inpatients.

NHS Improvement have confirmed that patient safety is paramount, and that there will be no disruptions to patient services or continuity of care.

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