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29 August 2019
More than 170 beds have been closed at two large teaching hospitals in the UK after local fire services issued prohibition orders over fire safety concerns.
Four wards in Sheffield, containing 120 beds, have been closed since November 2018 and two wards in Oxford, containing 50 beds, have also been closed, too.
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and Oxford University Hospitals had both received safety notices in the past two years, which required improvements to be made to the facilities.
A prohibition order was later enforced after the local fire services were concerned that gaps between inner and outer walls were 'not as effective as fire breaks.'
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said some trust leaders had told him they were “in a fairly consistent dialogue with the local fire officers”, which were becoming “increasingly difficult” as trusts are unable to progress fire safety work as quickly as required because of the lack of capital funding.
Additionally, the 'west wing', which houses the children's hospital, is only allowed to remain open with hourly fire safety checks.
Although there are no central figures for the amount of fire safety work required in the NHS, it has a maintenance backlog of £6bn, of which around a sixth is classified as “high risk”.
Patients have been moved but no date has been set to reopen either premises.