Patients to move out for 12 months while flammable cladding is replaced

Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital has closed its trauma unit for 12 months, after cladding on the building failed fire safety tests.

Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust said a report it commissioned “made a number of recommendations that the trust will need to put in place to improve fire safety before the building can be reoccupied as an inpatient unit, including replacing cladding”.

The report by consultants Trenton Fire found that the cladding on the Trauma Unit, which was constructed in 2002, was flammable and the lack of cavity barriers within the external wall construction could cause fire to spread between floors.

It said: “The building was clad in a Spanwall cladding system. This consists of what appears to be an aluminium sandwich panel with polystyrene insulation in the middle. There is then a 400-500 mm cavity with 20 mm of unknown foil backed insulation. This insulation has a plaster finish as the inside surface. This is therefore a flammable cladding system, but one which would not be excluded by the HTM (health technical memoranda) guidance document.

“Two cladding panels were removed at roof level and at ground floor by the north stair. Both of these indicated that there are no cavity barriers within the existing external wall construction which is a deviation from guidance and could cause unseen fire spread between floors, bypassing the compartment floor arrangement.”

The remedial work is expected to take a year to carry out.

The 52 inpatient beds from the trauma unit will be moved to wards elsewhere in John Radcliffe Hospital.

The offices of the John Radcliffe will also require new cladding to be installed on the roof, but OUH said the building was “relatively low risk and safe for workers to continue occupying the space while the work is carried out”.

Trenton Fire was appointed by the trust to report on fire safety after an initial review by the hospital’s estates team, following the Grenfell tragedy, identified four cladded buildings which needed further assessment.

Dr Bruno Holthof, chief executive of the trust, said: “In common with many other organisations with public buildings, the trust has been reviewing its fire safety procedures and systems following the tragic events in London. We will implement any changes necessary to ensure that our patients are safe.”