Edinburgh hospital 'urgent fire risk' as bosses hit with SEVEN enforcement notices

Social care cuts will lead to more people filling up hospitals like the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, it was claimed.
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Bosses at NHS Lothian have been issued multiple enforcement notices by fire chiefs after safety tests at their flagship hospital, Edinburgh Live can reveal.

Seven notices have been issued to the health board by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service following concerns at the city's Royal Infirmary.

Such notices are issued by the SFRS when there is an "urgent fire risk" detected. Bosses at NHS Lothian are now pursuing legal action against the fire service - requesting more time to address its requirements.

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The SFRS's senior area commander for the city says all hospitals and care settings receive an annual Fire Safety Audit and where deficiencies in fire safety are identified, they have authority to request urgent actions.

It is understood seven separate enforcement notices, which are one of the most serious outcomes of an audit, were issued regarding fire safety provisions at the hospital.

The health board has since responded by saying it "welcomes the enforcement notices served to NHS Lothian" and their PFI providers, Consort and Equans. The board also confirmed it is pursuing legal action in order to "request more time and clarifications of SFRS's requirements."

Since fire safety fears were raised by the service, it is understood staff at one NHS Lothian-run site were shown where the building's fire escapes were and took part in a fire training course.

Failings at the ERI have yet to be disclosed but according to the SFRS website, documents which may be reviewed during an audit include a fire risk assessment, fire safety arrangements, emergency evacuation plans and preventative and protective measures regarding fire.

The officer conducting the audit will also look for evidence that a "competent" person has tested the fire detection and warning system, emergency lighting, sprinkler system, ventilation system, firefighting equipment, electrical wiring in the building and portable appliance testing.

Lothian MSP Miles Briggs has written to the health board's chief executive and health minister Neil Gray after being made aware of concerns regarding the Royal Infirmary's fire safety provisions.

Mr Briggs said: "It is concerning that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service have deemed it necessary to serve seven enforcement notices to NHS Lothian to make fire safety improvements at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh hospital.

"A fire at the hospital has the potential to be extremely dangerous for patients and staff at the hospital, especially with many patients likely to have reduced mobility. We need to see transparency from NHS Lothian about the extent of work required to ensure that the hospital is within fire safety regulations.

"I have written to the Chief Executive of NHS Lothian and the Cabinet Secretary for Health, to ensure that remedial work is carried out as a matter of urgency."

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Information on fire safety audits on the SFRS states: "If there's an urgent fire risk, The FSEO/AO will issue Enforcement Notice with a list of items and a completion date. They will maintain contact during the process and return to verify completion."

An enforcement notice is one of the most severe outcomes of an audit. A Prohibition Notice can be issued if the fire safety or auditing officer thinks people are in danger, in which case the use of the building can be stopped or limited.

Morag Campbell, Director of Estates and Facilities said: "NHS Lothian has welcomed the enforcement notices served to NHS Lothian and our PFI providers by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).

"The Notices provide short timescales to progress surveys and plans of action that require coordinated action from NHS Lothian and our PFI providers, Consort and Equans, as joint duty holders. NHS Lothian’s appeals are to request more time and clarifications of SFRS’s requirements."

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Area Commander David Dourley is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's Local Senior Officer for Edinburgh City. He said: "We regularly work with partners, including the NHS, to advise on fire safety matters to ensure the safety of the public and staff.

"As part of our auditing programme, all hospitals and care settings receive an annual Fire Safety Audit from our specialist Fire Safety Enforcement Officers.

"Where deficiencies in fire safety provisions are identified, we have the authority to request urgent actions and to apply action plans through formal enforcement notices."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government are fully supportive of the actions NHS Lothian, working in conjunction with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, are taking to ensure the safety of the hospital.

“We are satisfied that NHS Lothian have taken the appropriate measures to ensure the hospital is safe and these improvements have been clearly communicated to staff working at the hospital. Throughout this programme, NHS Lothian have been working closely with SFRS and we are grateful for their assistance and pleased to note that SFRS are content the site is safe for staff, patients and visitors.”