AN ARCHITECT who helped design the templates for Scotland's largest hospital complex has warned that patients are being put at risk by failures to comply with fire safety regulations.

Robert Menzies, who is now retired, suggested the installation of a sprinkler system throughout the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow seemed to have been used to justify cutting corners on other building standards, such as breaching size limits on fire compartments and not including enough exit stairways to escape a blaze.

It comes after it emerged that insulation panels found burned up on Grenfell tower are also been fitted on the QEUH, although the health board has previously insisted that they are safe.

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Mr Menzies, from Falkirk, was a senior healthcare architect at BMJ when he was tasked in 2008 with drawing up an exemplar design for Glasgow's new Royal Hospital for Children, which was to form part of the QEUH. A separate firm, HLM architects, completed the exemplar - a template detailing what is required from firms bidding to design and build a hospital - for the QEUH.

London-based Brookfield Multiplex was subsequently awarded the contract to construct the super-hospital, comprising both the adult and children's facilities.

Mr Menzies said he was surprised by the choice as it contradicted the recommendation of the architects, who favoured Balfour Beatty's bid, but suggested that it may have been done "on the basis of cost" as Brookfield's proposals were cheaper. He said he had serious concerns about the design's fire compliance but did not get a chance to question it as, in 2009, the health board "stood down" the shadow team, including BMJ and HLM consultants, effectively excluding them from meetings and correspondence as the project progressed.

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Mr Menzies said: "We thought we would provide a monitoring role right through to completion of the actual build, in terms of where this is compliant and where it's not, so we were surprised to be told we were no longer required.

"I had read the winning bidder's fire strategy and it concerned me a lot. It was almost like they [the health board] didn't want us around asking questions. It was very odd."

Mr Menzies said fire safety failings were "more critical" due to the 14-storey design of the QEUH, but suggested that the incorporation of sprinklers - which are compulsory - may have been used to excuse other shortcomings.

He said: "They are supposed to provide three stairways minimum as an emergency escape route if there are more than 100 people per storey. In the adult tower, there are 112 patients per floor but only two stairways. They are only slightly over, but that's just the patients - there are also staff and visitors.

"They've then made the stairs the minimum width possible. Surely you'd want to make them wider to compensate for not having enough stairways in the first place?"

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Mr Menzies said at least one fire compartment, which are intended to limit the spread of smoke and flames if a blaze breaks out, was too big in the original QEUH designs - conforming to the English maximum of 2000sq metres instead of the Scotland's stricter 1500sq m limit. He added that the hose-reel for firefighters was too short and some fire doors opened in the wrong direction.

He stressed that these compliance faults may have been fixed in the final design, but that in the late-stage planning drawings he had seen they were unchanged.

In the United States, campaigners have warned that an over-reliance on sprinklers is driving a relaxation of building codes. Mr Menzies said there was a danger that a similar pattern was taking hold in UK hospital design. In the US, 20 per cent of hospitals with sprinkler systems have had fires where the sprinkler system failed.

Mr Menzies said: "If you're putting sprinklers in and you're saying a fire will never occur as a consequence, then why do you need escape stairs? Why do you need anything? But what happens when the sprinkler system fails? They're not 100 per cent."

A spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde confirmed that the adult tower has only two stairwells and did not refute Mr Menzies' other points.

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However, he stressed that the QEUH and the RHC were both were certified as compliant with Scottish fire safety and building standards by Glasgow City Council in 2015, and Health Facilities Scotland endorsed the QEUH's fire strategy.

He said: "It is important that everyone working in and coming to these world class facilities for healthcare know that we take fire safety extremely seriously and that there are heat/smoke detection and early warning fire alarm systems combined with automatic fire suppression sprinkler systems fitted in all areas.

"The hospitals are further protected by designated fire-fighting and fire evacuation lifts, as well as multiple fire escape stairwells."

A spokeswoman for Brookfield Multiplex added: "Mr Menzies reviewed the tender submissions at an early stage in the procurement phase of the project.

"Following this review, and subsequently Multiplex’s appointment, in early 2010 the design of the hospital and fire strategy were developed in collaboration with the NHS Board and representatives of building control along with the Fire Brigade over a number of years. All of this process was undertaken in accordance with the Local Authority Building Warrant process.

"The final design met all the requirements of the building regulations and was signed off progressively through construction by Glasgow City Council’s building control office concluding with the issuance of an occupancy certificate to allow Board operations in early 2015."

In the wake of the Grenfell blaze, NHSGGC has already appointed Currie & Brown, a construction consultancy firm, to verify the hospitals' construction and certification process.