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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS


Home > News > Trust submits planning permission for temporary wards at the Cumberland Infirmary due to fire safety works

Trust submits planning permission for temporary wards at the Cumberland Infirmary due to fire safety works

Posted on Friday 26th June 2015
cumberland infirmary

A planning application has been submitted to Carlisle City Council yesterday (Thursday 25 June 2015) for three new temporary wards at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle whilst fire safety remedial works are carried out.

The application follows an independent report commissioned by North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust which revealed fire safety issues in the hospital building. The concerns were specifically relating to fire proofing materials used which did not meet the required 60 minute protection standard to allow for safe evacuation and prevent any fire from spreading in the building.  The report was shared with the Trust’s PFI partner who hold ultimate responsibility for the estates and facilities management of the hospital.

Actions have already been taken to rectify the problems identified with work so far ensuring that the appropriate sealant is now being applied around the tops of walls and to the underside of floors, creating appropriate compartments which will restrict the movement of smoke and flames in the unlikely event of a fire. Further remedial work is also necessary across all wards and departments to ensure smoke cannot pass through the main infrastructure and pipework in the building and the timescale for completion of this work is expected to be around 12 to 18 months. This is in order to provide full reassurance to the Trust Board that all fire safety measures within the hospital are fit for purpose.

It has been agreed that providing temporary ward accommodation on the hospital site would allow the work to be done in the quickest time possible without disrupting patient care. The planning permission submitted to the Council yesterday would provide three 24 bedded wards which would be connected to the main hospital building. The temporary wards would enable an entire floor to be emptied to give the specialist contractors uninterrupted access and ensure that patients are safety cared for, minimising any disruption to patient care or delay in access to services. The two-storey temporary wards would be situated next to the outpatients department.

Helen Ray, chief operating officer at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Our clinical staff have been actively involved in designing the temporary wards which would provide patient accommodation to the same standard as a permanent building.

“The safety and welfare of our staff, patients and members of the public using the Cumberland Infirmary is paramount and people can be absolutely reassured that we are taking all of the appropriate steps to protect their wellbeing whilst using our services.

“Our staff are all trained to a very high standard in fire safety awareness and we have trained 44 members of staff as fire safety wardens providing extra vigilance and support to frontline teams. In addition, staff at the Cumberland Infirmary have taken part in additional fire evacuation training.

“Whilst all appropriate measures are in place, the Trust Board remains deeply concerned about services provided by our PFI partner who are not providing the high standards of service we require for our patients in North Cumbria on a consistent basis.”

The Trust continues to work closely with all partners including Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service who have recently visited the site and support the mitigating actions taken to date by the Trust.

It is anticipated that the temporary ward accommodation would be installed by February 2016 should the planning permission be approved.

All staff, patients and visitors at the Cumberland Infirmary are asked to remain extra vigilant as remedial works take place to reduce any possible risk of fire:

  • Please do not plug in any personal electrical equipment
  • Please do not smoke anywhere near the hospital building and refrain from smoking at the main entrance
  • Please do not clutter wards and departments with personal belongings
  • Please keep all fire doors closed