Worthing Hospital still at risk of major power cuts

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WORTHING Hospital is at risk of suffering yet another major power outage in the future, it has been revealed.

Concerns were voiced at a board meeting of Western Sussex Hospitals NHS trust held at Pulborough health centre on Thursday (November 24).

Worthing Hospital has suffered three major power outages in just seven weeks.

Finance director Spencer Prosser said: “We are potentially at risk of this happening again and it is due to an external power spike beyond our control.”

The most recent incident, which happened on November 10 and 11, saw the hospital struggle without power for 16 hours, following a small explosion within UK Power switch equipment on site.

The two previous incidents, on September 24 and 29, saw failures in the same area of equipment.

During the most recent incident, the hospital site was forced to run on back-up generator power, with the unit serving the east wing of the hospital failing for a period of around two hours. Although patients on wards were not affected by the loss of mains power, patients due to attend outpatient clinics and routine appointments were told not to turn up, causing major disruptions and backlogs of appointments across departments.

The whole of Worthing town centre was affected by the power outage, after UK Power had to redirect power to the hospital from Worthing town.

Interim chairman Mike Viggers said: “Three power failures in a relatively short period of time is unacceptable. It is recognised that people did some extraordinary things to manage that for us.”

MP for Worthing West Sir Peter Bottomley was accompanying the staff on a ward round when the hospital fell into darkness on November 10. Sir Peter called UK Power to demand the situation to be rectified. He said: “I have told them I think it is vital the hospital should have a dual power supply, so the hospital staff can continue to provide the great service they do. People are more important than machines.”

Mr Prosser said the trust’s internal generators may need upgrading, and his team was considering a more mobile solution to operate between its different sites in Worthing, Chichester and Shoreham.

Paul Hatcher, director of facilities and estates, said: “Clearly, we have learned lessons from those incidents which have already enabled us to review and make improvements to power supply across the Worthing site.”

Meetings are being arranged between UK Power and the trust.