Nurses praised for courage during hospital blaze

Staff helped evacuate patients during fire at Royal Stoke University Hospital. 
Royal Stoke University Hospital

Nurses who helped evacuate patients to safety following a fire at Royal Stoke University Hospital have been praised for their professionalism and courage.

Picture: Alamy

Patients were wheeled outside in their hospital beds during the blaze just before 6pm on Wednesday, which Staffordshire fire and rescue service said was started deliberately.

Staffordshire police said a man had been arrested in Manchester on Thursday afternoon in connection with the blaze and a separate fire at a university building in Stoke.

At the height of the fire, 30 firefighters helped staff evacuate patients from the main building.

Deputy chief fire officer Rob Barber said: ‘The fact that this fire was deemed to be deliberate is very concerning and we are working closely with Staffordshire police to aid in their investigation.’

'Incredibly proud'

University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) chief nurse Liz Rix said: ‘We are incredibly proud of all our nurses and our staff following the declaration of a major incident after a fire at Royal Stoke University Hospital.

'Our nursing staff responded quickly to ensure the safe evacuation of patients from a number of wards and departments.

‘We are delighted with the response from all our staff in what were challenging and distressing circumstances, especially our nurses, who were in the process of shift handover.

‘The flexibility, professionalism and courage they showed to conduct a safe evacuation from the hospital highlights the commitment within the UHNM family to always put our patients first. 

‘As is always the case with these incidents, there are valuable opportunities for learning and improvement. In the coming weeks we as nurses will be reflecting on our response to help us and others better prepare for any incidents in the future.'

Eyewitness accounts

Stephen Tolley was visiting his mother at the hospital and described the scene as ‘pandemonium’.

He told the Stoke Sentinel: ‘It was chaotic. There's going to be quite a lot of nurses tomorrow with bad backs because they were carrying people on anything they could.’

Another visitor, who did not want to be identified, said: ‘I was walking from the car park and all of a sudden I saw nurses running from the reception area pushing all of the benches from reception outside.

‘People in wheelchairs were being pushed out and then patients in beds.

‘It must have been quite distressing. There was one lady who had just come out of theatre for spinal surgery.’

Patients were returned to their wards at 11.15pm.

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