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Police suspect arson in Bedford Hospital Trust fire

Police suspect arson in Bedford Hospital Trust fire
By Valeria Fiore Reporter
4 January 2019

A fire has left a derelict NHS building in Bedfordshire partly destroyed.

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue reached Shires House (formerly known as North Wing) at Bedford Health Village – where a fire was raging – at 6pm last night.

The building is disused and there were no patients or staff on the premises when the fire, which at one point saw around 60 firefighters work to put it out, started.

Investigations are ongoing but Bedfordshire police said it suspects arson.

Bedford Hospital NHS Trust said in a statement that the building is not part of the hospital and it is owned by NHS Property Services (NHS PS).

Bedford Health Village houses some services run by Bedford Hospital NHS Trust but is managed by East London NHS Foundation Trust.

Disruption to services

A spokesperson from Bedford Hospital NHS Trust said: ‘Following last night’s fire at a vacant building on the Bedford Health Village site all Bedford Hospital NHS Trust Services at Gilbert Hitchcock House will run as normal, with no appointments cancelled.

‘However, all Moorfields appointments scheduled for today at the Enhanced Services Centre (ESC) in Bedford Health Village will now take place at the South Wing site.

‘If Moorfields appointments cannot take place at the ESC next week, Bedford Hospital will look to open additional clinic space at Gilbert Hitchcock House. Any affected patients will be contacted.’

Earlier this morning Bedford Fire and Rescue said in a statement on Twitter that the cause of the fire is subject to investigation.

Later, Bedfordshire Police issued a statement in which they said they are suspecting arson and are appealing for witnesses.

Superintendent Jim Lunn said: ‘We take all reports of arson very seriously, particularly as the fire was so close to operational hospital buildings, and we are continuing to investigate the circumstances of this incident. At the moment we are treating this as deliberate.’

NHS PS chief operating officer Martin Steele said: ‘We are extremely grateful to Bedford Fire and Rescue for their continued efforts at Shires House.

‘Our priority now is to ensure that our partner organisations are able to access adjoining buildings safely.’

This is not the first time that a NHS PS-owned building has caught fire.

Weybridge Community Hospital in Surrey, also owned by NHS PS, was left destroyed by a fire in July 2017.

The incident encouraged NHS PS to carry out a review of around 3,500 NHS buildings it owns, which is expected to be completed by spring this year.

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