HC Deb 02 March 1971 vol 812 cc397-8W
Mr. Redmond

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many fires have occurred in hospitals during the last five years; how many occurred at mental hospitals and how many at general hospitals; whether, as a result of inquiries which took place following the fires, he is satisfied that everything possible has been done in these hospitals and in all others to eliminate all risk, including possible smoking by patients; and if he will make a statement.

Sir K. Joseph

The statistics that are available for the whole of this period show that between 600 and 700 outbreaks of fire have occurred annually in National Health Service hospitals, private hospitals, nursing homes etc. Many of these caused only minor damage.

For the last two years specific information has been available about fires in National Health Service hospitals causing casualties, disturbance to patients or significant damage to property. In the 12 months commencing March, 1969, 123 such fires occurred and in the last 12 months 103 have so far been reported. Of these totals 26 and 24 respectively occurred in hospitals for the mentally ill and mentally subnormal. All reports are carefully studied and action taken to remedy any deficiencies.

Comprehensive guidance issued to hospital authorities is aimed at reducing the risk of fire breaking out by drawing attention to the main causes, e.g. the careless disposal of smoking materials; and at ensuring that the fire precautions at hospitals, with provision of adequate alarm systems and fire-fighting equipment, the training of all staff and arrangements for regular fire drills, are designed to minimise the consequences if a fire breaks out.