Why do hospitals not have air conditioning?

PUBLISHED: 14:46 26 July 2019 | UPDATED: 14:46 26 July 2019

Nigel Whale, Kitchen Manager, with water during heatwave Photo: Submitted

Nigel Whale, Kitchen Manager, with water during heatwave Photo: Submitted


As temperatures topped 33.3C in Norfolk on Thursday, with the hottest day ever recorded, concerns were raised over the safety of the county’s hospitals operating in the heat.

This newspaper received multiple calls from relatives of those being treated at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) worried over a lack of air conditioning on wards, and the impact that has on patients and staff.

Some hospital areas, such as theatres, will have air conditioning where it is essential to keep machinery cool.

But the trust has now confirmed national guidance forbids them from installing hospital-wide air conditioning for safety reasons, as well as cost.

A spokesman for NNUH said there was guidance from the NHS nationally which meant it was not cost effective to install permanent air conditioning units, based on the cost to strapped health service funds and how often they would be used.

And there were also infection control issues to be considered around mobile air conditioning units.

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But the spokesman said: "Our staff and volunteers are going above and beyond during this extreme hot weather and we'd like to thank everyone for their hard work.

"We have put in place our local plans in line with Public Health England's heatwave guidance, which includes keeping windows closed during the day, blinds down and turning off lights and any other non-essential electrical items during this spell of hot weather.

"We have been running extra refreshment rounds for patients and we are urging our staff to take more drinks breaks to keep hydrated.

"We have also been distributing ice lollies to the areas of the hospital that have been most affected by the heat."

At the James Page University Hospital in Gorleston a spokesman said staff had been given plenty of water to drink, which had been distributed by the catering team.

The weather has also kept other emergency services busy, with the Waveney depot for East of England Ambulance Trust buying in ice lollies for staff.

Rain is forecast for the weekend with a Met Office weather warning in place. It is expected this will bring temperatures down to around 20C.

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