Health & Safety Failures At Birmingham Hospital Spark Investigation

Police were called in to investigate the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham - the country's second largest hospital - after the discovery of high levels of chlorine in water which may have been linked to the deaths of two patients, as well as significant failings in relation to the building's fire dampers.

Despite costing the taxpayer £2.6bn, whistle-blowers told Channel 4 News that, 'the buildings have been beset with construction and maintenance failings.'

The problems uncovered ranged from the water supply, which was contaminated with chlorine on three separate occasions, to the fire safety system. 

Less than a year before the hospital opened, a technical report raised concerns about fire dampers in the building,  showing images of a damper sealed with tape, one propped open with a piece of metal, preventing it working in a fire, and others built into the wall so they couldn't be accessed for testing.

Between March and June 2010, 418 fire dampers in the Mental Health sections of the hospitals were inspected. Only 218 passed. 3 units were damaged and 197 could not be tested because of insufficient access.

Under health and safety law, fire dampers have to be tested every 12 months. Critics say these kind of problems are emerging up and down the country, because the companies being paid to build and maintain these hospitals are trusted to monitor themselves and report when things go wrong. However, this doesn't always happen, because it can result in big financial penalties.