The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has written to providers of care homes, hospices and independent hospitals, as well as their representative bodies, to encourage them to review their fire safety checks to ensure they are up-to-date, understood and applied consistently.
The letter, from the CQC’s Chief Executive, Sir David Behan, has been sent as a precautionary measure following the tragic events at Grenfell Tower.
In the letter, Sir David says, ‘As the regulator, our purpose is to ensure people receive safe, effective, compassionate and high-quality care and to encourage improvement.
‘With recent events in mind, I am writing to ask that you review your fire safety processes in your registered premises to ensure they are up-to-date and are being applied consistently in practice. In particular, I ask you to pay attention to the size and fabric of your registered premises. You may have carried out such a review already but if you have not, I encourage you to do so.
‘We will continue to assess fire safety when we register and inspect providers, focusing on passive and active fire protection and on how fire safety is managed on a day-to-day basis.’
The responsible person in a workplace is required to carry out a fire risk assessment, which should pay special attention to those at higher risk due to issues such as mobility impairment or learning disability.
Sir David continues, ‘We know from our inspections that there have been occasions when we have identified fire safety issues, some of which we have had to escalate to the local fire authorities. These issues include blocked fire exits, fire doors wedged open, escapes routes used as storage areas, low awareness among staff of what to do in emergency situations and no evidence of fire drills having been undertaken recently.
‘From our inspections, we recognise that some providers maintain their premises and equipment safely and properly, undertake environmental risks assessments, manage any risks and issues, and have staff members who use safety-related equipment and processes properly.’
NHS trusts, which the CQC also regulates, have been contacted by NHS Improvement already about their fire safety processes across their registered premises.