PATIENTS’ lives have been at risk for years after a fire safety report identified a catalogue of serious problems in the John Radcliffe Hospital’s Trauma Unit.

From cladding with polystyrene insulation to the practicality of evacuating 52 ‘highly immobile patients’ down one staircase, Trenton Fire’s report on the building lays bare the extent of the problems facing Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH).

The Bicester-based fire safety consultants also warned that the current alarm system in the building was a ‘high risk issue.’

The report, which led to yesterday’s revelation that 52 beds will be relocated, reads: “It is clear from the review undertaken that the building has serious and embedded fire safety issues.

“There would have been a serious cause for concern and a potential prohibition notice for the issues relating to the fire alarm system and the vertical means of escape. On the basis alone it would be considered high risk.

“With the inclusion of missing cavity barriers and a flammable cladding system there are also serious issues and compound the other problems identified.”

The building was built in 2002 and clad in a Spanwall cladding system, which is an aluminium sandwich panel with polystyrene insulation in the middle.

Although the cladding, which has a plaster finish, is flammable it is not one that has been excluded by under official government guidelines.

The report also found in samples taken from the roof and ground floor there were no cavity barriers in place to help stop the spread of fire.

It added: “Both of these indicated that there are no cavity barriers within the existing external wall construction, which is deviation from guidance and could cause unseen fire spread between floors, bypassing the compartment floor arrangement.”

Trenton Fire said the trust will need to change the alarm system, install evacuation lifts at each end of the building, install cavity barriers and to change the cladding to make the building safe.

The report also notes outpatients at the ground floor of the building can continue and office staff can work on both floors subject to additional assessment.

Spokeswoman for the trust Susan Brown said: “I think we are grateful that we have found out about these issues.

“After the Grenfell Tower disaster we decided to do a full investigation into the safety of all our buildings. We have found some significant problems with the Trauma Unit and we are taking action to ensure patient safety.

“Obviously we wish we were not in this position but our patients remain our top priority.” The trust said somebody trained in firefighting will be on site 24/7 until all inpatients have left on Friday.”