Entire A&E unit at University Hospital of North Staffordshire evacuated and 'decontaminated' after patient brings in weed killer

Hospital ward was put into lockdown over 'chemical contamination' threat

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The Independent Online

An entire A&E hospital ward was evacuated by emergency services on Friday evening, after a parent brought a bottle of weed killer into the unit.

Staff at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire in Stoke-on-Trent called the fire service just before 7pm on Friday evening when a woman brought in a child suffering with eye irritation.

The parent brought in the substance they believed to be responsible for causing the irritation – a bottle of weed killer. Shortly after, other patients complained of ‘irritation’ and the A&E unit was put on lock-down for an hour and a half, The Sentinel reports.

Staff called the fire service as a precaution to identify the substance affecting the child and to ensure no hazardous material had been brought into the hospital.

Eight police officers, two fire pumps an incident response unit and ambulance crews attended the scene. The parent and child were "decontaminated" and the weed killer swiftly removed from the hospital.

Chief Inspector Carl Ratcliffe, of Staffordshire Police, said: "A couple of people arrived with some slight injuries.

"They brought in the substance that had caused the injuries which, unfortunately, caused some low level contamination and irritation of other members of the public who were present at the time.

"As a result of that, police, fire and rescue, the ambulance service and hospital management team combined in a multi-agency response."

He said emergency services reacted with the standard response to the risk of chemical contamination. "It was just a normal, garden product," he added. "It was perfectly legal and it came with the normal warnings."

A spokesman for the hospital said it was standard procedure to evacuate an area when an incident arose involving a questionable substance.

Additional reporting by PA