A Cumbrian hospital has been forced to close to new admissions after fire safety concerns. Ellerbeck ward at Workington Hospital is not admitting patients after a specialist report highlighted issues that would limit the ability to evacuate the first floor ward. A specialist report commissioned by Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and received recently, highlighted previously unknown issues relating to the construction and design of the building.

Workington Hospital

Workington Hospital

Defects concern fire stopping to the compartment walls and the design of the staircase. The trust implemented a series of precautionary measures last week, and a visit by Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service yesterday confirmed the actions were satisfactory.

Firefighters agreed that, temporarily, the trust should not admit any more patients on the ward until the issues have been rectified.

To ensure the safety of the existing patients and staff, the trust has agreed to the training of additional fire wardens and fire checks.

A timescale to rectify the defects is still being discussed, and the risks will be reassessed in a month.

Dr Craig Melrose, associate medical director, said: “The safety of our patients and staff is paramount and this new report is something we took immediate steps to act on as soon as we became aware of the risks.

“We have been reducing the number of patients on the ward since last week and the remaining patients will complete their care with us on the ward in line with their needs.”

He added: “To limit the impact of the reduced availability of the beds across the system, we are discussing with our partners options for opening beds elsewhere and we will provide updates on this as soon as we are able.

“We would like to thank our staff, the fire service and our partners for their support.”

Elllerbeck Ward is a 14 bed unit providing GP/nurse led medical, nursing, rehabilitation and end of life care. Four beds have been closed for some time due to staffing issues.