Temporary relocation of some Western Eye services for essential fire safety improvements

Following an expert review of fire safety at the vacant Samaritan Hospital, adjacent to the Western Eye Hospital, we are taking the precaution of immediately relocating some services from the Western Eye while more detailed investigations – and anticipated remedial works – take place.

The new concern identified is that if a fire broke out in the Samaritan building, there is potential for it to take hold in parts of the adjoining Western Eye building before being detected. Following receipt of the review, we yesterday closed the two areas most at risk and increased our security checks around the Western Eye/Samaritan buildings. As an additional precaution, we are now closing the whole of the lower ground, second and third floors and will be resuming services from those floors in alternative locations as quickly as possible. This includes operating theatres, the day care unit, pre-assessment clinic and some outpatient services.

We are confident that, with the addition of a team of 24/7 fire wardens being put in place now, we can safely continue services on the ground and first floors. This includes our specialist A&E service and specialist outpatient services.

Professor Tim Orchard, chief executive said: “We are extremely sorry for the disruption but the safety of our staff and patients must be the absolute top priority. Our staff are working hard to minimise the impact on patients and to resolve the situation as soon as possible. We will also provide more details on next steps as soon as we have them.”

The Samaritan Hospital for women and children was closed in 1997, with services relocated to the nearby St Mary’s Hospital. We have been working to relocate the Western Eye’s ‘standalone’ services too - to bring them together with other services including wider A&E services – as part of a much needed redevelopment of our whole estate. All three of our main hospitals – St Mary’s, Charing Cross and Hammersmith - are included in the Government’s New Hospital Programme. Our intention continues to be to sell the Samaritan and Western Eye buildings together to maximise the income to be reinvested in our redevelopment programme. It would also be disproportionately expensive to bring the Samaritan building back into use. Instead, we constantly maintain the Western Eye building and we have made the Samaritan building as weather tight and secure as possible, with water, drainage, electricity and heating systems disconnected.