NHS hospitals in Greater Manchester recorded over 1,000 overheating incidents as temperatures soar in heatwave

The vast majority of incidents in the most recent year for which data is available occurred at just one trust in the city-region.

Concerns have been raised about hospital wards overheating as the UK is being warned to expect record high temperatures and a red alert has been declared.

And the latest data shows there were more than 1,000 incidents of hospitals becoming too hot in Greater Manchester in the space of 12 months, with the vast majority occurring at one of the city-region’s larger trusts.

Trusts have to have a heatwave plan which explains how they will protect vulnerable patients when the temperature inside exceeds 26 C.

The trusts where most of these incidents were recorded have explained why this might be happening and what they are doing to keep people safe.

What does the data show for Greater Manchester?

The latest data on overheating hospitals comes from NHS Digital and covers the financial year 2020-21.

The highest number of incidents triggering a risk assessment by far in Greater Manchester happened at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, with 1,000.

WWL also had the most overheating incidents of any NHS trust in England.

There were also 137 incidents at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust.

There were 16 at Salford Royal hospital and six at specialist cancer hospital The Christie,

At both WWL and Bolton the numbers of overheating incidents rose from 2019-20, when there were 564 incidents triggering risk assessments at WWL and 113 at Bolton.

Hospital trusts should take appropriate actions to safeguard vulnerable patients at any time during the year when the temperature is higher than 26 C in any occupied ward or clinical area.

It is also recommended that trusts carry out internal temperature monitoring in all clinical areas all year round.

What has been said about the issue of overheating in hospitals?

A national analysis of the NHS Digital data carried out by our sister site NationalWorld, which found more than 4,000 overheating incidents in England in 2020-21, has prompted concerns to be raised about patient safety.

One think-tank blamed years of underfunding for a lack of suitable air conditioning in hospitals, saying trusts now routinely have to deal with extreme temperatures and this puts patients under significant amount of stress.

The figures have also been revealed as the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) issued a level four heat health warning (the highest possible level) for England and the Met Office declared a heat national emergency on Friday (15 July). Temperatures over the next few days could reach 40C in some parts of England, experts have warned.

What have the trusts with most overheating incidents said?

David Evans, director of estates and facilities at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (WWL), said: “Patients are our number one priority and we do everything we can to ensure they are comfortable during their stay with us, making sure that conditions within our hospitals are conducive to providing the best possible care.

“While the data on overheating in our hospitals appears to be excessive, incidents are recorded by area, so two wards in one hospital on the same day that exceed 26 ºc counts as two incidents.

“Given the large multi-site nature of our estate, this will inevitably increase the number of incidents recorded when outside temperatures exceed seasonal norms.

“As with all hospitals, the Trust is working hard to address the current weather conditions and support patients and staff in our hospitals.”

Sharon Martin, director of strategy and transformation at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’re doing all we can to manage warm temperatures with the installation of portable air-conditioning units on wards with no-fixed air conditioning, as well as introducing hydration stations across the hospital to help staff and visitors access water.”