§ 116. Sir J. Langford-Holt
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he has received the report of the Committee appointed to inquire into the circumstances leading to a fire at Shelton Hospital, Shrewsbury, on the night of 25th-26th February, 1968, and to the deaths of 24 patients; and whether he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Ennals
Yes. Copies of the report will be placed in the Library of the House and made available to the Press today.
The principal conclusions of the report are that the origin of the fire was almost certainly a lighted cigarette end left in an easy chair in the day room of the ward concerned; that the hospital had a modern fire alarm system but it was not used properly; and that there was delay after smoke was first seen before the Fire Service was summonded. The failure of the night nurse in charge of the ward to give warning of the fire earlier was a vital factor in the disaster but there were other contributory factors for which she 269W was not responsible. These factors were, first, the existence of orders requiring the night porter to obtain the authority of one of the hospital fire officers before calling the Fire Service, and, secondly, the failure of those in responsible positions to ensure that all nurses received training in fire procedure, including the evacuation of patients, as recommended in a report by the Shropshire Fire Service in 1963 and in the standing guidance on fire precautions issued to all hospitals by my Department in 1966.
Copies of the report have been sent to the Birmingham Regional Hospital Board and the Shrewsbury Management Committee. My right hon. Friend has asked them to report to him urgently on the action already taken or still to be taken to remedy the deficiencies disclosed in it.
My Department wrote to all hospital authorities in April this year asking them to examine their fire precautions in the light of the Department's standing guidance and drawing attention to the great
Name Date of first appointment to the Board Local authority area in which resident Chairman appointed to 31st March, 1969 J. T. Lewis. Esq., O.B.E., J.P. October, 1962 … Wolverhampton C.B. Other Members appointed to 31st March, 1969 J. P. Bull, Esq., M.D., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P. April, 1964 … Birmingham C.B. R. C. Hansen, Esq., J.P. November, 1967 … Hereford M.B. G. C. Haynes, Esq. April, 1957 … Wolverhampton C.B. Miss E. M. Powell, S.R.N. April, 1966 … Oswestry M.B. L. G. Symour, Esq., J.P. May, 1954 … Solihull C.B. Sir Arthur Thomson, M.C.. M.D., L.D., F.R.C.P. April, 1951 … Birmingham C.B. R. D. Turner, Esq. July, 1966 … Kidderminster R.D. Miss S. Wright (Mrs. Gregory) April, 1966 … Birmingham C.B. Members appointed to 31st March, 1970 G. V. Grimshaw, Esq. April, 1949 … Rugby M.B. J. C. Heather, Esq., M.D., F.R.C.P. April, 1951 … Solihull C.B. Alderman Mrs. R. F. Ilsley, J.P. April, 1966 … Wolverhampton C.B. B. C. Kirk, Esq., J.P. November, 1967 … Birmingham C.B. A. J. McCall, Esq., M.D.. F.R.C.P., M.R.C.S., F.C.Fath. April, 1967 … Newcastle-under-Lyme M.B. J. Glyn Picton, Esq April, 1958 … Birmingham C.B. The Right Reverend the Bishop of Lichfield July, 1954 … Lichfield M.B. Professor W. H. Trethowan, F.R.C.P., F.R.A.C.P., M.R.C.S., D.P.M. April, 1964 … Birmingham C.B. S. R. Whittaker Esq., D.L.. M.D., F.R.C.P., M.R.C.S. April, 1958 … Warwick M.B. Members appointed to 31st March, 1971 Mrs. V. E. d'Abreu, S.R.N. April, 1962 … Alcester R.D. Mrs. J. Cole April, 1965 … Birmingham C.B. Mrs. E. Emery, O.B.E., J.P. June, 1958 … Warwick M.B. F. W. Leath, Esq., J.P. April. 1968 … Shrewsbury M.B. T. C. McKenzie, Esq.. O.B.E., T.D., D.L., J.P., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P. April, 1959 … Warley C.B. Mrs. T. Stewart April, 1968 … Birmingham C.B. R. A. B.Thomas, Esq. April, 1962 … Stafford R.D. J. WrigM, Esq., C.B.E. April, 1968 … Meriden R.D.
importance of training staff. This letter also advised that rooms where smoking is permitted should be inspected after they are vacated for the night. A new edition of my Department's standing guidance to hospitals on fire precautions is due to be issued early next year which will reinforce previous guidance and will take account of the general considerations on which the Committee of Enquiry commented.
I should like to add my own deep regrets to those expressed by my right hon. Friend the previous Minister of Health on this tragic occurrence.