Update on Royal Infirmary Hospital

Following the tragic events of the Grenfell Tower fire in London, 12 weeks ago, NHS Lothian, along with all NHS Boards, has been undertaking a review of all its buildings’ external cladding, including risk assessments and necessary testing.  At the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE), which is a building built under the Private Finance Initiative, this testing and risk assessment has been undertaken jointly by NHS Lothian and Consort Healthcare.

Tim Davison, Chief Executive, NHS Lothian said: “We take all matters surrounding fire safety very seriously and I would like to reassure patients, the public and our staff that the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh has a sophisticated fire prevention system. Our risk assessments and the additional measures we have put in place give us confidence that the hospital remains safe for our patients and staff. This confidence is endorsed by Scottish Fire & Rescue.”

Since June, NHS Lothian and Consort have undertaken the following actions at the RIE: 
  • Reviewed risk assessments of all in-patient and out-patient areas.
  • Carried out intrusive surveys to confirm that appropriate fire breaks are in place to prevent fires spreading.
  • Reviewed all fire evacuation plans and staff training programmes.
  • Ensured key staff training requirements are up to date. 
  • Undertaken a full review with Scottish Fire & Rescue on response times to the hospital, which resulted in no alteration to their standard operating procedure. Regular reviews will take place going forward.
  • Appointed fire risk management experts

In addition to the above, NHS Lothian and Consort conducted a review of the risk assessment with key partners including Scottish Fire & Rescue and Scottish Government to ensure the current facility is deemed safe for all our current services – this review identified the need for interim testing of the external panelling.
NHS Lothian commissioned the University of Edinburgh to conduct tests on three samples of representative cladding from the exterior facade of the RIE.
These tests confirmed that the materials are combustible. The panels were fully compliant with building standards at the time of its construction.
We have agreed with Consort a second phase of testing of the cladding in line with British Standard 8414. This is the testing regime recommended by the UK Government’s expert panel.  The time frame for conducting these tests is estimated at six weeks.
In the interim we have agreed a series of measures with Consort. These include:
  • Controlling access to the building facade by introducing temporary fencing.
  • Checking the external panels for damage and making good any with visible damage.
  • Increasing vigilance and security to prevent unauthorised persons or vehicles from coming into contact with the external facade.
  • Putting in place more regular external cleaning to ensure there is no debris or rubbish which could become an ignition source.
  • Sharing the results of the test with the Scottish Fire & Rescue service – currently they have not expressed any desire to alter their service response.