Hospital unit could be closed for a year to replace cladding on building

A hospital unit in Oxford will close for up to a year after a report into fire safety standards of cladding on its building revealed that it did not meet required standards.

Following an independent report into the cladded buildings on four main hospitals in Oxfordshire being handed to Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS FT last week, a decision has been made by the trust’s board to move the 52 inpatients at the Trauma Unit of the John Radcliffe Hospital to other areas of the building.

Trust leads said that a “combination of fire safety factors with the building” meant that it was no longer suitable for inpatient use.

The move is planned for Friday 4 August to leave enough time to ensure patient safety during the move and prepare the new locations for the incoming patients.

OUH said that it is working with the council and local CCG to identify beds in community services for patients who have already been assessed as ready to return home.

The report about the building’s cladding was commissioned following the Grenfell Tower disaster, and was completed by Trenton Fire, which recommended the trust replace the cladding on the Trauma Unit.

This is a job that could take up to 12 months, although Trenton recommended that the ground floor outpatient clinic area can remain open whilst works are ongoing. The upper floors of the hospital have also been deemed safe for use as office and storage space.

Dr Bruno Holthof, chief executive of OUH, commented: “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.” 

Trenton and Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue also recommended a number of other measures for the trust to implement to maintain patient safety as the works begin on the Trauma Unit. These include regular patrols by designated fire wardens, as well as the removal of non-essential items that pose a fire risk (like toasters), and ensuring that somebody trained in firefighting is on site in the unit on a 24/7 basis until all inpatients have been removed.

(John Radcliffe Hospital c. Steve Parsons)

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