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03 March 2015
Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is refusing to pay £1.4 million to its private finance initiative ( PFI ) provider over fire safety standards concerns at Peterborough City Hospital.
Late last year routine checks led to concerns that the ceiling voids at the four-year-old £289 million hospital might not comply with standards designed to stop the spread of smoke and flames.
The trust claims that the issue means the site has effectively been ‘unavailable’ and thus it will not pay the entire amount due on the PFI loan that was used to build the hospital. Effectively, it has withheld £1,441,496 from the payment of £3,847,878 which had been due to Peterborough (Progress Health) last month.
It has also warned that future payments may also be withheld.
While reassuring patients that the trust will remain vigilant to ensure fire safety standards are maintained at all times, chief executive Stephen Graves said: “In November 2014, following a review of the fire safety standards to which our hospital has been built, we learned of some issues with the infrastructure.
“As a result the trust withheld a portion of its PFI payment based on an ‘unavailability’ clause in our agreement. We are working with Progress Health, which has responsibility for maintaining the hospital building, to resolve any issues, along with the fire service which is providing advice and support.”
Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.