davidfloryDeputy NHS Chief Executive David Flory has written to colleagues highlighting the main findings from a report by the London Fire Brigade  into fire safety in the NHS.The report follows a fire incident at a hospital in October 2011, as a result of which the FRS had planned to prosecute the NHS Trust concerned.

The Department of Health decided to act on the FRS case, both to address the safety concerns raised and the issue of criminal liability following NHS trust mergers.

Mr Flory said: "Following an investigation into the fire, the local Fire & Rescue Service felt that there was compelling evidence of inadequate fire safety governance and intended to prosecute the NHS Trust concerned.

"Unfortunately, between the fire and the conclusion of the report, the trust had merged with another, and criminal liability had not transferred to the new merged organisation. This resulted in the FRS being unable to undertake the prosecution.

"Having had this brought to the attention of the Department of Health, steps have now been taken to ensure this situation cannot arise with any future mergers/acquisitions. It should be noted that whilst it was fire safety matters that brought this issue to light, it could in fact relate to any other health & safety type incident."

The report identified a catalogue of failings giving rise to the mismanagement of fire safety across the organisation. There are lessons for the NHS to learn from the publication of the report by the FRS, as many of the areas of concern appear to be issues that are easily resolved.

"NHS Trust and NHS Foundation Trust Chief Executives, and Trust Boards are reminded of their duties under current fire safety legislation – the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005," added Mr Flory. "Consequently, I would advise that immediate steps should be taken to review fire safety across your organisation to ensure those duties are being met and that patient safety is not being compromised."

Posted 01/02/2013 by richard.hook@pavpub.com