Mums and babies at risk: Homerton’s newborn intensive care unit breaches fire safety standards

Homerton Hospital

Homerton Hospital - Credit: Archant

The safety of mums and newborn babies has been at risk since March because Homerton Hospital hasn’t met fire standards at its newborn intensive care unit.

And the major refurbishment works required are likely to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds and take several months.

London Fire Brigade served an enforcement notice on the unit on March 15, stating the Homerton had “failed to take general fire precautions to ensure the safety of people on the premises”.

Hospital chiefs also “failed to make a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment”, ensure equipment was in good repair, or establish an appropriate emergency plan.

These should have been finished by August 30, but the time limit was extended to October 25, and then last Wednesday – and apparently still hasn’t been done.

Top brass at the Homerton Row hospital claim seven of the eight breaches have been rectified, but would not say when.

They admit one issue, adequate fire separation between the intensive care unit and the loft above, is still outstanding.

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Management say they have put the building contract out to tender. A spokesman said: “It’s not been completed because this is a major refurbishment project – and, before you ask, probably hundreds of thousands of pounds and several months.

“It has needed substantial planning not just in terms of the structural work which is necessary but the logistics of carrying out the work and allowing the unit to continue to function. Thus the work will be carried out in phases.”

A former midwife told the Gazette: “A fire risk to an ICU is very grave. Mothers, babies and staff have been left exposed to serious risks for a very long time. Should the unit have been closed during the period of remedial work, as opposed to exposing mothers, babies and staff to further risks?”

A London Fire Brigade spokesman said they working with managers to “agree a schedule of works.”