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6 NHS Trusts With Buildings That Failed Post-Grenfell Safety Tests Haven't Commissioned Fire Assessments

John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford will relocate its trauma unit on professional fire safety advice – but the NHS says it's up to individual trusts to decide if they want to commission similar assessments.

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John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford.
Steve Parsons / PA Wire/PA Images

John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford.

Six hospital trusts with buildings that failed flammable external cladding tests have yet to commission professional fire assessments for their estates, despite the planned closure of another hospital's trauma unit on the advice of such a report.

Patients being treated at the trauma unit of John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford will this week be moved to a new location after a report commissioned in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire found serious fire risks, including flammable cladding and a lack of escape routes.

A report from an independent fire assessment company found a wide range of potential risks inside and outside the hospital building. All 52 patients are due to be moved on Friday and improvements could take 12 months.

BuzzFeed News has learned that the trust that runs New Cross hospital in Wolverhampton, where a new heart and lung unit failed tests, has not commissioned an independent third-party report. The trust was the only one of the six to have a building where patients stay overnight fail tests.

The John Radcliffe report, completed by Trenton Fire, criticised the fire alarm system, which is designed to go off across the building (it should only sound in the affected area), and said it was unclear if all patients and staff could safely evacuate down the single stairwell in the event of a cladding fire.

The report concluded:

There would have been a serious cause for concern and a potential prohibition notice for the issues relating to the fire alarm system and the vertical means of escape provision. On this basis alone it would be considered high risk.

NHS England carried out "urgent" fire safety tests in partnership with local fire brigades after Grenfell. Wardens are in places 24 hours a day at New Cross hospital and there have been increased staff training and security measures. The NHS said it was "safest and most appropriate to continue to treat patients in this unit".

A spokesperson for NHS Improvement told BuzzFeed News it was up to individual trusts to decide whether or not to commission a professional third-party fire assessment.

In a statement, NHS Improvement said: "The board of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has taken the decision to temporarily move patients from the major trauma centre as a precautionary measure, while it undertakes remedial work to reduce fire risk.

"In the meantime, the trust has put in place enhanced fire safety measures to ensure patient safety. These are sensible precautions and have been put together in conjunction with the local fire service."

The news comes as police warn the public about fraudsters who are posing as fire safety experts and using the Grenfell tragedy to get victims to pay for bogus inspections.

Derbyshire police said, based on a warning from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, that "fraudsters are visiting homes to offer free or subsidised fire safety inspections, citing the tower block fire as the reason for their visit."

"While the NFIB are not aware of any successful attempts by the fraudsters," police said, "they are encouraging the public to report any suspicious approaches by people purporting to offer goods or services in relation to health and fire safety to Action Fraud, especially in cases where it is suggested they are making contact as a result of the Grenfell Tower fire."

Patrick Smith is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

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