Northern Ireland

Royal Victoria Hospital building cladding 'similar to Grenfell'

Critical care building
Image caption The Belfast building has been beset by problems and remains mostly closed to the public

Tests are to be conducted on cladding used on the new critical care building in the grounds of Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital, the BBC understands.

The cladding was discovered after checks were carried out on all public buildings across the UK after the fire at the Grenfell Tower flats in London.

In a statement, the Department of Health described the cladding as similar to that used at Grenfell Tower.

It added that the building continues to meet fire safety requirements.

Concerns have been raised about the cladding at Grenfell Tower, where a huge fire left at least 80 people dead, or missing presumed dead.

The critical care building in Belfast has been beset by problems and remains mostly closed to the public five years after it was due to open.

The £150m hospital opened its emergency department on the first two floors, but due to ongoing problems, the other 10 floors lie empty.

Extensive checks

In a statement to the BBC, a spokesperson for the Department of Health said it is continuing to assess the extent of the cladding.

It confirmed that extensive fire safety checks have been carried out across all its buildings

"Out of the 19 buildings inspected it has been identified that the critical care block in the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust has a limited installation of a cladding system similar to that used on Grenfell Tower Block," it said.

"It has been installed to a roof top ventilation plant room and an external entrance canopy."

The BBC understands the area includes a canopy used in the Emergency Department entrance and a vast area close to the roof which houses the building's heating system.

It is understood Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride called an emergency meeting on Thursday involving senior officials who are involved in building works across the hospital sites.

"In light of recent events, the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust is further assessing the extent of the installation, however, it has been confirmed this building has been designed and built in compliance with current building regulations and meets fire safety requirements," the statement added.

In March, the BBC revealed that millions of pounds in additional funding was required to bring the building up to standard and fit for purpose.

Even before this latest problem was identified, there has been no confirmation from the Belfast Health Trust as to when the multi million pound hospital will be fully opened to the public.

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