Staff at Edinburgh’s Western General ordered to cut down ‘fire hazard’ Christmas tree

Staff at an Edinburgh hospital have been ordered to cut down their Christmas tree after bosses ruled it could be a fire hazard.

Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 8:58 am
The department for clinical neurosciences' Christmas tree has been removed for health and safety reasons.

Morale has reportedly been destroyed at the Western General Hospital’s Department of Clinical Neurosciences (DCN) after staff were forced to have their tree chopped at the base due to it being a fire hazard.

One anonymous source, said: “It is health and safety gone mad. The DCN tree was ordered to be chopped down after it was deemed to be a health and safety risk. They said it was too tall at 5ft high and in danger of catching fire – it really is the straw that broke the camel’s back in this department. Morale was low but this really has been out of order.”

The news comes off the back of comments from NHS staff who spoke to the Evening News regarding an email that was sent out to all departments – advising them on guidelines surrounding Christmas tree decorations and how to go about it safely.

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One source said: “There was an email that was circulated and talking strictly about the time at which we had to switch lights off. They also advised on the type and size of baubles that could be used when decorating our trees. It does seem a little bit silly and a tad over the top.”

George Curley, director of facilities, NHS Lothian, said: “We all love a bit of Christmas cheer, but unfortunately we have to balance festivities with fire safety. The trees had not been fire-proofed and could end up blocking routes in the event of a fire, which meant that patients and staff could be placed at an unacceptable level of risk.”

NHS Lothian’s media team would neither confirm nor deny the existence of such specific guidelines on bauble sizes as they said they could find no record of such a communication being circulated at the time. However, they did not deny the existence of such an email.

And several sources con-
firmed the existence of a health and safety email that was sent out, with some saying that the information is sent out each year with guidelines on how to safely decorate their departments.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has warned that a burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases.

It advises the best way to extinguish a tree is with a water mist extinguisher.