A STINKING sink caused the part-closure of one of Shropshire's biggest A&E departments this summer, a report has revealed.

The sink was blocked by an "unknown substance", and smelled so bad that ambulances were diverted elsewhere while the issue was resolved.

Patients were also advised to go to the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford while the stench was addressed, a report by trust chief operating officer Nigel Lee shows.

Mr Lee’s report, prepared for the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust board, details the organisation’s emergency preparedness and response processes. 

“The trust has a mature suite of plans to deal with major incidents and business continuity issues,” he writes.

“These conform to the 2004 Civil Contingencies Act and current NHS-wide guidance.”

His paper reports on training and testing in line with the plans, and summarises “instances in which the trust has had to respond to extraordinary circumstances".

While the trust was focused on dealing with the "level four" national incident that was the Covid pandemic, he writes that SaTH has also responded to a number of other incidents.

One of these was the emergency department part-closure of May 24.

“Due to an unknown substance that had been put down one of the sinks in one of the majors cubicles, a sink was blocked along with the sluice in the dirty utility,” his report reveals.

“The smell had spread to outpatient areas and was causing a very unpleasant environment for staff and patients.

“Internal escalation plans were activated and an ambulance divert was initiated until the issue was resolved.”

That incident was the second of three detailed in Mr Lee’s report. The first was in November 2020, he writes, when the facilities team received reports of issues around the handling and infectious clinical waste.

“Working with the estates team, a number of mitigating actions have been taken, including publication of a standard operating procedure for Covid-19 waste,” Mr Lee writes.

On May 30 this year an early-morning “routine generator test” revealed some equipment was overheating, which “led to outages of key clinical systems along with the VOIP telephony system”.

SaTH’s board will discuss Mr Lee’s report on Thursday, October 7.