Peterborough City Hospital needs to be “made safe” according to the region’s fire service which said progress has not been made on concerns raised over a year ago.
Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service has issued an Enforcement Notice on the Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust after becoming aware that defects at the hospital are more extensive than previously feared.
The notice was issued three weeks ago (March 22) and the fire service will now work with hospital managers to “ensure the risk of fire is reduced as far as possible while we wait for the remedial work to be completed.”
The £289 million hospital, which opened in November 2010, was built using a PFI deal (Private Finance Initiative) which continues to cost the trust millions of pounds every year.
In February 2015, bosses at the hospital in Bretton refused to pay £1.4 million to their PFI provider - Peterborough (Progress Health) - after problems came to light over the ceiling voids in the building.
The enforcement action has come to light from an email sent by Jon Anderson, area commander for community safety at the fire and rescue service, which has been seen by the Peterborough Telegraph.
It states: “CFRS became aware in December 2014 that there were problems with how the hospital had been constructed relating to fire resistance of the internal compartments.
“CFRS have been working with the hospital for over a year to try to resolve the issues via an agreed action plan. However, due to the lack of progress that has been made against the action plan, and the fact that it has now been discovered that the problems are at least four times worse than initially identified, the service has decided, in consultation with their barrister, that formal enforcement action is now required.
“CFRS will continue to work with the hospital trust and support them to resolve the issues in line with duties under the Regulators Code; the service needs to ensure that the building is made safe within a reasonable timescale.
“Fire safety officers are working with hospital managers to ensure the risk of fire is reduced as far as possible while we wait for the remedial work to be completed.
“It is worth noting that although the hospital trust is the responsible owner of the building in terms of the Fire Safety Order, it is another company that is responsible for the building as the hospital was built under a PFI initiative. The trust is working with the other parties involved to try and get the issues resolved.”
A Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said: “An enforcement notice under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 was served on the Peterborough and Stamford NHS Foundation Trust on Tuesday, March 22.
“We have previously been working with the hospital trust to try and resolve the structural issues that have affected fire safety by way of an action plan, however, now that we are aware that the defects with the building are more extensive and serious than originally believed, we have now taken formal enforcement action.
“We will continue to work with the hospital trust and support them to resolve the issues and fire safety officers are working with hospital managers to ensure the risk of fire is reduced as far as possible while we wait for the remedial work to be completed.”
A spokesman added: “The structural issues do not increase the risk of a fire happening. They increase the risk of fire spread should a fire occur. However, hospitals are well managed places and fires in hospitals are rare.
“The hospital has a fire detection system and its evacuation process has been reviewed. Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service has also reviewed its resource attendance should it be called to any incidents at the hospital.
“We will continue to work with the hospital trust and support them to resolve the issue and if there is failure to comply we will review our position.”
Stephen Graves, Chief Executive at Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Following a review of the fire safety standards to which our hospital has been built, a significant number of issues were identified with the fire separation infrastructure.
“Work has been going on throughout the hospital since 2015 to both identify the scale of the problem and begin remedial action.
“The survey work has recently uncovered a more extensive range of defects than originally thought, which means that the work to rectify the problems will take longer than anticipated.
“This, combined with the fact the remedial work has to take place while the hospital continues to deliver its services to patients, means it will not be completed until February 2019.
“In the light of this development, the trust has been served with an enforcement notice by Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service as part of its regulatory duties.
“We are working closely with the Fire Service and Progress Health, the organisation which has responsibility for maintaining the city hospital building, on a detailed action plan to resolve these issues.
“I must stress that our structural issues do not increase the chance of a fire happening, but they increase the risk of it spreading should a fire occur. I am grateful that our staff are supporting us by remaining vigilant in ensuring fire safety standards are maintained at all
“We have also revised our evacuation procedures and have been liaising with departments to share this updated information.”Related