Concerned visitors to Wigan Infirmary are urging bosses to deal with “unsafe” temperatures, which are reportedly causing staff and patients to pass out.
Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust (WWL) has faced uncomfortable questions about its working environment after a former employee submitted a Freedom of Information request earlier this month.
Patricia McCormack, who worked at the hospital, has claimed that temperatures occasionally reach the mid 30s inside the building, resulting in medical episodes among staff and visitors.
In an open letter to WWL she said: “As a concerned member of the public and ex staff member I would like to use FOI to request information (if any) on plans you have/are planning to put into place in the coming years to make suitable your hospital in extreme weather.
“This year I note staff working none stop in bays reaching temperatures of 33 degrees.
“I have been told of staff and visitors fainting and feeling very unwell having to work during this heat.
“This issue is only going to get worse year on year as climate change affects temperatures, rendering the environment unsafe for staff and patients so it is vital to see that WWL are taking the issue seriously and planning to make changes that will ensure the safety of people in their buildings.
“I’m sure health and safety is paramount to WWL so any reassurance is much appreciated.”
This weekend alone saw temperatures rise to around 30 degrees across the borough. Another member of staff, who asked not to be named, also raised concerns for patients and employees.
“It is unbearable on warmer days,” they said. “This year has been particularly difficult during the hottest parts of the summer.
“It is very unpleasant for staff so I can’t imagine how patients must feel, especially when they’re coming in already feeling ill.”
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has long called for changes to the law to protect employees and prevent workplace illness brought on by extreme heat.
Last summer, which also saw temperatures soar, the group called for legislation to be put in place to ensure a maximum workplace temperature of 30 degrees or 27 for those doing strenuous work.
Hospital bosses have said they are trialling new projects to help increase “natural ventilation” inside its buildings.
A spokesperson said: “At WWL we take climate change and the emerging government targets very seriously.
“We have invested in sustainability projects for many years now which have contributed to an overall reduction in our CO2 emissions by 38 per cent against the Climate Change Act target of 34 per cent by 2020.
“Instances of high internal temperatures are rare and occur on only a few days a year. These also vary from ward to ward depending on their location.
“At WWL we have plans to continue to invest in major sustainability projects, which include working on a range of low carbon measures which we believe will help reduce internal temperatures.
“Alongside these projects a number of smaller initiatives are being trialled with a view to increasing natural ventilation which will reduce internal temperatures.
“We are not aware of any staff or visitors fainting due to the temperature in our hospitals.”