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Firefighters rush to Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow after intensive care unit ceiling partially collapses – major incident declared as precaution

Firefighters were called to Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow early on Thursday (March 14) when part of a ceiling in the intensive care unit (ICU) collapsed.

The hospital, which is the general and acute hospital for the Bishop’s Stortford area, declared a major incident as a precaution. No one was harmed.

The incident happened as a result of medical equipment becoming detached from its fitting. Patients and staff were moved out of the ICU to other parts of the hospital while the fittings for other equipment in the unit were checked.

The incident happened before 6am. Three crews from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) were at the scene for more than three hours.

A spokesperson for the service said: “Firefighters were called to Princess Alexandra Hospital at 5.54am. On arrival, crews reported a ceiling had partially collapsed and worked to make the scene safe by 9.09am.”

The PAH NHS Trust’s deputy chief executive and chief nurse, Sharon McNally, said on Thursday: “We can confirm that an incident took place in our intensive care unit... where medical equipment detached from its fitting. No one was harmed as a result of the incident.

“As a precautionary measure, we have declared a major incident as we have vacated our ICU while we fully assess and check the fittings for other medical equipment in the area.

“We are continuing to manage patients who require intensive care safely within our hospital and we are also grateful to our healthcare partners for their continued support.

“We are continuing our investigation of this incident to ensure patient safety.

“Our emergency department and wider hospital facilities remain open as usual.”

In a statement on Friday, Stephanie Lawton, PAHT’s chief operating officer, said: “Today, we have stepped down the major incident for our ICU to an internal business continuity incident. Patients who need intensive care are being cared for by the ICU team in a purpose-built area with all the ICU specialist equipment required. All services are operational whilst remedial work is under way in ICU.

“Our thanks go to all of our teams their prompt action and for their continued specialist care for our patients.”

ECFRS sent crews from Harlow and Old Harlow fire stations as well as its Colchester-based urban search and rescue unit.

PAH provides 414 general and acute beds and a full range of general acute services, including a 24/7 emergency department, ICU, maternity unit and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

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