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Overheating and flooding at hospitals in England ‘pose threat to patient safety’

Record levels of overheating and a sharp rise in flooding at England’s hospitals are putting vulnerable patients at risk, figures show.

Analysis of NHS data by the Liberal Democrats found that the number of health trusts reporting overheating in clinical areas had doubled compared with six years ago, and floods had increased by nearly 60% from last year.

An overheating incident is logged when an occupied ward or clinical area’s daily maximum temperature exceeds 26C, the temperature at which some patients become unable to cool themselves effectively.

The latest government figures show that in the summer of 2022 there were an estimated 2,985 excess deaths due to heatwaves, the highest number on record. Heatwaves also forced a fifth of UK hospitals to cancel operations.

The number of serious flooding incidents, where water caused disruption such as by breaching a building or flooding a road, rose from 176 to 279.

The climate crisis is expected to increase these risks to hospitals and patients. Helen Buckingham, the director of strategy at the Nuffield Trust, said: “These figures are a cause for real concern about the resilience of the NHS’s estate to the growing threat from extreme weather in the UK. As temperatures have climbed, so too have the number of overheating incidents in NHS hospitals.”

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Source: The Guardian, 27 November 2023


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