The chief executive of ULHT says an interventional radiology room at Lincoln County Hospital has been “completed gutted” by a fire overnight, and both A&E and the Urgent Treatment Centre remain closed.
Patients, including some having treatment, and staff were evacuated from the building after a fire at around 3am on March 29, leading to United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust declaring a ‘major incident’. Nobody was injured, but the cause is yet to be confirmed due to an ongoing investigation by Lincolnshire Fire & Rescue.
In an interview with The Lincolnite ULHT chief executive Andrew Morgan described how the surrounding areas of the building have been “considerably damaged” by smoke and soot, with hospital bosses still counting the cost of the blaze.
He confirmed hospital has been boosted by the news most outpatient appointments will go ahead on Tuesday afternoon (March 29), with the exception of some fracture clinics where patients will be contacted directly to rearrange.
Patients attending outpatients are asked to arrive through the main entrance, rather than the usual outpatients entrance.
Mr Morgan said the A&E department and the Urgent Treatment Centre remain closed, meaning there is currently no accident and emergency service at Lincoln County Hospital. A&E and the UTC are closed to walk-in patients and emergency ambulance arrivals.
He told The Lincolnite: “The source of the fire was our interventional radiology room which is near A&E and our imaging department.
“We evacuated everyone safely from A&E and the surrounding areas. All patients and staff were initially evacuated outside. They were quickly moved to the outpatient department.
“The room where the fire seems to have started is completely gutted. There is a lot of smoke and soot damage to the surrounding areas such as the emergency department and the urgent treatment centre, and where we have our CT and MRI scanners.
“The room looks like you’d expect a fire damaged room to look – everything is black and considerably damaged in the surrounding areas, including roof tiles.
“Once we are allowed back in the room, as it is a fire scene now, we can assess exactly how we replace what has been lost. Everything in that room has gone and a lot of the internal roof tiles are down, we are still assessing the extent of the damage.
“We will be cleaning up and checking the safety around electrical equipment and medical gas supply. Staff will be involved in the clean up and also redeployed elsewhere.
“We’ll seek to get everything back up as quickly as possible. I can’t give a definitive date or time when it will all be back up and running.
“Those where we are having to cancel we are contacting people to rearrange. We offer our sincere apologies to those who have been inconvenienced by last minute cancellations.
“We’ll get their appointments in as quickly as possible. This is a rapidly changing situation and we’ll update people through our website and social media, and through the media.”
When asked whether Grantham will be reinstated as a full A&E service in order to help deal with the situation if needed, he said: “We wouldn’t rule any of the options out, but would look at further utilisations of Grantham if needed. Grantham doesn’t have the further ancillary services such as ICU.”
The hospital boss said anyone believing they need an A&E type service is encouraged to ring 111, or 999 if it is an emergency.
He added: “With the A&E department being closed, ambulances wouldn’t bring them [patients] to Lincoln, they would go to our other sites, or outside of Lincolnshire, that’s why we have major incident plans in place.
“We have plans for when one of our sites goes down and that will include staff moving between sites if needs be. Our other sites are ready to receive additional patients, and apologies if that results in longer waits for those people who turn up.
“I would like to commend the public for their support, my staff for dealing with it so well, and all our partner organisations for the great support we’ve had.
“We are focused on getting our services back up and running as quickly and swiftly as we can, and any temporary resources we can bring in such as mobile scanners.
“We are not sure of the cost of the damage. Our initial concern has been around patient and staff safety and continuity of service. Absolutely, we need to look at the restoration cost but we don’t have any idea on that at the moment.”