Grenfell Tower: Nine hospital trusts are 'category one' for fire risk and 38 hospitals are causing concern

Cladding was thought to help the fire spread

Rachael Revesz
Tuesday 27 June 2017 23:40 BST
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Cladding panels with a combustible core are used in buildings all over the UK and in new buildings
Cladding panels with a combustible core are used in buildings all over the UK and in new buildings

Nine hospital trusts have been found to be covered in cladding similar to that of Grenfell Tower, where a fire spread 60 metres high within 30 minutes and killed at least 79 people.

Up to 38 hospital sites have similar characteristics to Grenfell, with nine of the trusts classed as category one risk, meaning the building is over two storeys, is used by staff and inpatients, and has similar cladding to that of the Kensington high rise.

The alert from the National Fire Chiefs Council came as more than 17,000 care homes and private hospitals were ordered to carry out a safety review.

A spokesman from NHS Improvement, the NHS regulator, said it was supporting trusts and helping to complete checks following concerns that fire services had limited capacity, as reported by the Health Service Journal.

He said: “Following feedback from trusts regarding the capacity of some local fire services, we are now focusing our efforts on a number of trusts who appear to need more rapid and intensive support in the shorter term to complete these essential safety checks.

”All other trusts will be required to complete these safety checks as soon as possible and further information on timelines will be released to trusts in due course.

Grenfell locals adjust to life after the fire two weeks on

“We are continuing to support trusts as they work toward completing these checks in a short timeframe.”

Neither the name of the trusts nor details about their risks have been released.

NHS Improvement had written to all trusts in England to ask them to check the cladding.

At least 95 residential high rises across the UK have failed fire safety tests following the Grenfell blaze, prompting a mass evacuation of 4,000 people from the Chalcots estate in Camden last Friday.

The figures of affected buildings, released by communities secretary Sajid Javid, triggered Theresa May to announce a “major national investigation” into cladding on high rise buildings.

The fire prompted anger and grief from former residents of Grenfell, as well as other locals in the area, many of whom live in similar high rises that were built in the 1970s.

Residents at Grenfell had long complained of sub-standard safety procedures, including dozens of exposed gas pipes.

The Guardian reported that the National Grid agreed to cover the pipes serving individual flats with fire-retardant boxing, but it had only covered a third of them by the time of the fire, which was started by a faulty Hotpoint fridge-freezer.

Residents reportedly told the London fire brigade three months before the fire that some people were so scared of the gas pipes that they were having panic attacks.

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