An NHS intensive care unit was evacuated amid fears its roof could collapse.
A critical incident was declared at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Kings Lynn NHS Trust in Norfolk on 10 March, a report discussed at a board meeting on Wednesday revealed.
Patients were moved to receive critical care in other hospital wards for three weeks after engineers identified ‘likely’ and ‘extreme/very high’ risks.
The structure showed ‘signs of deterioration’, with the reinforced concrete planks having been in use for 40 years, despite being designed to only have a 25-year lifespan.
The trust’s risk register said: ‘There is a direct risk to life and safety of patients, visitors and staff of the trust due to the potential of catastrophic failure of the roof structure due to structural deficiencies.’
Props have been inserted into the CCU roof to ‘prevent any further degradation’ and hospital bosses are ‘working with steel contractors to install a steel frame to resolve the current issues’.
The ICU was reopened last week, trust chief executive Caroline Shaw told the board.
It comes after concerns were raised about the roof in 2019, with Ms Shaw saying there had been ‘little investment to allow the scale of modernisation and upgrades required’ and ‘minor fixes and repairs [were] no longer sufficient’.
Other NHS hospitals built in the 1970s have experienced similar issues, including one named James Paget FT, also in Norfolk, which is one of 40 trusts to be included in the Government’s hospital building programme.
Queen Elizabeth is not one of these trusts but was granted £20.6 million to ‘fund the short-term fixes and improvements needed as surveys identify failings with the roof planks and rapid deterioration of the hospital’s estate’.
A hospital spokesman said: ‘During a routine inspection we identified that essential maintenance work was needed on our critical care unit and we temporarily moved a small number of patients to another part of the hospital, where they continued to receive critical care, while we completed this work.
‘We have a team permanently on site to systematically check and manage our buildings and to act on any work that might be needed, and we are treating patients safely, as normal.’
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