Negative Pressure Inquiry Confirms No Risk to Patients

An inquiry into concerns about hospital negative pressure rooms raised by the Director of Public Health for Norwich Primary Care Trust has confirmed no patients, staff or visitors have been exposed to excess risk.

The inquiry came after the Trust board of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital ordered an inquiry by experts into the provision and specification of special negative pressure rooms at NNUH following concerns about their functionality.

The inquiry team, chaired by NNUH non executive director David Wright, is composed of Addenbrooke’s consultant microbiologist Dr Mark Farrington and Gloria Milne, non executive director at Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The inquiry team considered expert evidence from consulting engineers and experienced clinical experts from across the region: The interim report concludes:

  • At not time since the hospital has opened has any patient, member of staff or visitor been exposed to any excess risk
  • During the period of the hospital design and build, NHS specifications for negative pressure rooms were unclear, constantly evolving, and at times contradictory. Although national specifications are now clearer, uniform and clear standards remain an issue that needs to be examined nationally
  • The two negative pressure rooms NNUH currently has are fully operational and adequate
  • The negative pressure problem should have been dealt with more rapidly and should have been better managed by the NNUH Trust within its Clinical Governance arrangements

David Wright, inquiry chairman, said: “Clearly it has been most important that we establish what risks, if any, patients, staff or the public may have faced following the concerns raised and we are happy to report no one faced any additional risks.

“It has been clear to us that national standards for the provision of such facilities is not helped by unclear guidelines and that remains an issue that needs to be addressed nationally. We have also found that the Trust should have dealt with the problems much more quickly and the issue should have been better managed.”

The report will be shared with all interested parties in order to ensure lessons are learned at local, regional and national levels.

Note: The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is the only hospital in Norfolk or Suffolk to have high-spec negative pressure rooms for the treatment of patients with highly infectious diseases such as multiple drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB). Two rooms on the hospital’s respiratory ward have carefully monitored negative pressure that prevents air inside the room from flowing out to the ward and thus reduces the chances of infection spreading.

Media contact: Andrew Stronach on 01603 287200.

Thursday 17th of June 2004 11:00:57 AM