Hospitals told by health secretary Jeremy Hunt to carry out fire checks after Grenfell Tower disaster

The region’s hospitals have been told to arrange urgent fire safety inspections as part of the response to the tragedy at Grenfell Tower.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

On Saturday, an email was sent to hospital chiefs by regulator NHS Improvement telling trusts they must ensure fire and rescue services inspected their buildings by “close of play [Sunday] evening.”

A second email said to focus on inpatient facilities “due to the rapid turnaround”.

NHS Improvement chief executive Jim Mackey sent the emails following discussions between the regulator and health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

It is thought some trusts had already undertaken a fire assessment and the request only applied where this was not the case.

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However fire chiefs have since hit out at the alleged lack of communication with them before the order was given.

In the email Mr Mackey wrote: “Upon completion of this inspection, please confirm by way of letter (signed by both trust CEO and fire inspector) that this has been concluded, and whether there are any immediate risks that need resolving. We will then work with trusts directly where urgent decisions are required.

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“We understand that it might be difficult to mobilise support from your end at such short notice, and so efforts are in train to ensure that these actions are also prioritised through Home Office.”

However, the Health Service Journal reported yesterday that fire service chiefs were not consulted over the “practicalities” of carrying out the tests.

One trust chief in the east of England told the HSJ: “Our fire service had not heard anything about it from their end so when the NHS trusts started to ring them, it was all new news.

“Plus they are inundated with safety checks on residential blocks. Joined up government at its best.”

A spokesman for Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital said: “We have robust systems and processes in place for fire safety and fire risk assessments are carried out across the hospital site on an annual basis. We have a limited amount of cladding in non-inpatient areas which we are currently testing as a precautionary measure.

“We are currently liaising with the Norfolk Resilience Forum which includes representatives from the fire service.”

Jon Green, chief executive of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, said: “Fire safety is regularly reported on within the hospital. All NHS buildings are already subject to stringent and thorough safety checks, regulations and standards.

“The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, along with other organisations, has responded to the request by NHS Improvement on fire safety and no part of the hospital is above two storeys high or has retro-fitted cladding.”

Whilst deputy chief executive at James Paget University Hospital, in Gorleston, Anna Hills said: “Along with NHS hospitals across the country, we will be carrying out an additional fire risk assessment of our buildings, as a precaution. This will be in addition to our annual fire risk assessments, and a yearly compliance check which was last carried out by Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service in March this year.”

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