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Fire safety measures at OUH

01/08/2017
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On Thursday 27 July 2017 Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust received a report on fire safety in the Trauma Unit at the John Radcliffe Hospital. The report was written by Trenton Fire whom the Trust commissioned to make recommendations about the Trauma Unit following a review of fire safety of cladded buildings on our four main hospital sites in Oxfordshire after the tragic events at Grenfell Tower.

Read the full report (pdf, 1.8 MB)

An extraordinary Board Meeting was held on Thursday 27 July 2017, and a decision made in light of the report's recommendations, to plan to move the 52 inpatient beds from the Trauma Unit to wards within the John Radcliffe Hospital.

The Trust is putting its contingency planning in place and preparing the wards to receive patients from the Trauma Unit. The move is planned for Friday 4 August 2017 which will allow enough time to ensure patient safety during the move and prepare the new locations appropriately.

The Trust is working closely with Oxfordshire County Council and Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to identify beds in the community for patients who have already been assessed as ready to go home, to help free up beds.

In the meantime, the existing additional fire safety measures put in place when the Trauma Unit was first raised as an area of possible risk are being maintained.

The Report by Trenton Fire has made a number of recommendations that the Trust will need to put in place to improve fire safety before the building can be reoccupied as an inpatient unit, including replacing cladding. It is important to note that the recommendation to move patients is not just because of the cladding, but because of a combination of fire safety factors with this building, making it currently unsuitable for inpatients.

It is thought that these works may take up to 12 months to carry out. The report also finds that the ground floor outpatient clinic area can remain open for patient use during the period required for building modifications. In addition the upper floors will be safe to use as office and storage space. The report has been discussed with Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service who have agreed to support the Trust while we manage a move of patients over the next week. Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service will continue to support the Trust in ensuring the safety of patients and staff during this time for which the Trust is very grateful.

Dr Bruno Holthof, Chief Executive of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: "Our highest priority is the patients in our care and our staff who are dedicated in their care for those patients. In common with many other organisations with public buildings, the Trust has been reviewing its fire safety procedures and systems following the tragic events in London. We will implement any changes necessary to ensure that our patients are safe."

Following the initial assessment by the OUH Estates team, four buildings - or areas of buildings - were identified as needing further assessment. The only one of these to accommodate inpatients is the Trust's Trauma building. Following advice from both Trenton and Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, a number of measures were put in place to maintain patient safety whilst the assessment was carried out.

These include:

  • regular patrols by estates and designated fire wardens;
  • removal of all non-essential items likely to prove a fire risk (e.g. toasters);
  • vigilance in enforcing existing fire safety measures such as maintaining clear fire exits;
  • agreement with Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service that any fire alarm going off in the Trauma Unit will trigger an immediate alert resulting in immediate attendance on the site and with several crews;
  • ensuring that somebody trained in firefighting will be on site in the unit on a 24/7 basis until all inpatients have left the unit.

In addition, whilst we recognise that the smoking ban on our site can sometimes be stressful for patients and their visitors, and that enforcement of the ban is also difficult, the Trust requests that people refrain from smoking on our sites. This message is being particularly reinforced around the Trauma building.

Background

Following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in London on 14 June 2017, OUH conducted a thorough risk assessment of cladding on buildings on our four main Oxfordshire hospital sites.

The Trust was also contacted on 24 June by NHS Improvement who asked the Trust to assess our buildings against risks identified post the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, such as specific types of cladding. Naturally they also gave priority to buildings that housed inpatients.

As a result of these two measures, the Trust identified four buildings that needed closer examination: the Trust's Trauma Unit and office areas occupied by staff from the University of Oxford within the John Radcliffe Hospital site, and the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism (OCDEM) and the Pet/CT Crick Building at the Churchill Hospital.

There is no requirement to provide additional fire safety measures for the two buildings on the Churchill site. The office areas at the John Radcliffe will require new cladding to be put on the roof, but they have been deemed relatively low risk and remain safe for workers to continue occupying the space while the work is carried out.

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