The trust in charge of Lincolnshire’s hospitals has submitted a bid of around £50 million in government money to bring its fire safety arrangements up to higher standards.
Chief executive of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust Jan Sobieraj told Lincolnshire Reporter that the county’s hospitals had suffered from decades of underinvestment in fire safety, but reassured patients that the sites were safe.
He said that it would take around £46-47 million to bring Lincoln County Hospital, Boston Pilgrim Hospital and Grantham Hospital up to safe standards.
ULHT’s board agreed early in 2017 – before the devastating Grenfell Tower fire – to spend around £3 million of its own resources on improving fire safety.
Jan Sobieraj said that he hoped the Department of Health would look on the application for funding favourably, especially given the current circumstances and public mood surrounding fire safety nationally.
He said: “This is a really important issue for us – it’s one of the biggest issues on our agenda.
“When I came into the trust 18 months ago, one of the first things I discovered was the trust has not invested enough over decades in proper fire safety arrangements.
“This is because struggles with our capital programme which is about improving our facilities.
“Now that’s not to say we’re unsafe because there are mitigations in place.
“We want to be safe and safer. Patients coming in today are safe and our staff are trained to look after them.”
Asked why the trust had not been complying with fire safety regulations beforehand, the trust chief said the NHS had not put enough resources into it because of “other priorities”.
He cited a recent fire at Boston Pilgrim Hospital as evidence that the trust was keeping patients safe.
“Because of our plans to look after patients, no patients came to harm.”