THE health board which claimed that inflammable insulation material used in Grenfell Tower which remains in place at Scotland's super-hospital was safe - applied to have it removed nearly three years ago, the Herald on Sunday can reveal.

Concerns have been raised that the Kingspan Kooltherm K15 insulation used at the 197ft- high Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow remains in place three-and-a-half years after the Grenfell Tower blaze that claimed the lives of around 80 people in June, 2017.

K15 has never been replaced at the hospital after NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said three years ago that Multiplex, the main contractor for the construction provided assurances the material was properly installed and met "Scotland's stringent building and fire safety regulations".

Evidence stating there was "deceit" over the marketing of the safety of the K15 insulation has been revealed to the disaster inquiry.

Last week the health board insisted to the Herald on Sunday that the K15 insulation that remains in place at the £842m QUEH was safe.

It said over three years ago that it had been assured by Multiplex, the main contractor for the hospital construction that K15 was properly installed to meet building and fire safety regulations.

The Scottish Government also said it had been assured the insulation on the hospital which officially opened in July, 2015 was fitted correctly and met fire regulations.

The Herald on Sunday can reveal that on March 7, 2018 the health board put forward a building warrant application to remove the K15 insulation and replace with 75mm thick Rockwool Rainscreen Duo Slab insulation.

It also sought to remove and replace existing rainscreen cladding panels.

According to city council records, the application was later withdrawn and replaced in August, 2018 with applications to remove cladding, with no reference to removing the K19 insulation.

READ MORE: Health chiefs insist flammable Grenfell cladding 'no risk' at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital

Retired Scots architect Robert Menzies who was involved in designs for the new children’s hospitals in both Glasgow and for Edinburgh said he would be "surprised" if the K15 had not been removed by now in the light of the building regulations application.

He said the original fire rating of K15 "fails on all levels and at all heights" and should never have been installed on any part of the hospital facade in the first place.

He said: "If K15 was safe why apply to replace it and why was the taxpayer presented with the bill."

The Scottish Tenants Association has called on health secretary Jeane Freeman to intervene and ensure flammable materials are removed from the hospital.

Evidence provided to the Grenfell inquiry has heard that Kingspan marketed its K15 insulation with fire test certificates which did not represent the product being sold.

It has heard current and former staff of insulation manufacturer Kingspan tell about efforts they went to in order to convince the construction industry K15 was safe to use on buildings above 18m – despite a lack of genuine test data.

One former executive said that the firm was involved in a “deliberate and calculated deceit”, which involved marketing the product without solid test evidence.

Kingspan technical manager Ivor Meredith said he was uncomfortable with how the company’s K15 insulation was being marketed, and that he was "under pressure" to get test results that proved it was safe.

Evidence to the inquiry revealed that Kingspan sold its Kooltherm K15 insulation with an unrepresentative fire certificate based on a 2005 test which claimed it was safe for use on buildings higher than 18 metres.

HeraldScotland:

Kingspan confirmed in October this year that the test certificates for Kooltherm K15 had been formally withdrawn.

These certificates have now been withdrawn from the market.

Evidence produced last week to the inquiry revealed that Kingspan senior staff knew the fire certificate for K15 was misleading for four years before they informed the public.

Kingspan’s head of technical and marketing, Adrian Pargeter, who started working for the company in 2009, blamed preparations for the inquiry and Covid for a further nine-month delay between the company confirming with documentation that their tests did not match the marketing material, and writing to the industry to tell them.

He said in evidence to the inquiry that the company has “learnt some lessons” and is “trying to make improvements” following the blaze.

He said the company want: “To try and ensure that we improve the way we control bringing new products to market and in the marketing of those products.”

It also emerged that Kingspan used public relations agency Portland over the summer of 2017 to try to convince “key decision makers” that combustible materials were safe if properly installed.

The firm listed ideal targets on internal documents including then-home secretary Amber Rudd, and then housing secretary Sajid Javid, who went on to be chancellor under Boris Johnson.

Michael Gove, who still serves in the Cabinet, was also noted as a “key decision maker” as the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs at the time.

Other MPs from across the House of Commons were also mentioned in the Kingspan Political Engagement Plan as people the business wanted to get in touch with.

The overview of the document said: “Some people will not want to meet you and they will not want to be lobbied. But there is still immeasurable value in getting Kingspan’s manifesto in front of these decision makers. We want them to read it.”

It said messages from the firm needed to be “punchy, memorable and easy to understand”.

In July, a month after the Grenfell Tower diaster, the Scottish Government's Ministerial Working Group on Building and Fire Safety were assured that K15 was "classified as an acceptable product under our building regulations and that it has been appropriately installed to ensure it met building and fire safety regulations".

But on August 10, it was confirmed that unidentified panels of cladding were to be removed from the QEUH as a precautionary measure. It was said the cladding was not the exact type as the cladding on the London tower block, but was being removed anyway in a bid to reassure patients and staff.

Six months later, the health board said it would carry out the work.

On February, 12 it emerged that taxpayers would foot the £6m bill for replacing cladding panels made from aluminium composite material not just on the QEUH, but also the Royal Hospital for Children. 

HeraldScotland:

The health board said at the time: "The board has been given assurances from the National Fire Officer that the hospitals are amongst the safest buildings in the UK in terms of fire engineering, however the decision was taken replace panels to give extra reassurance to the public, our patients and our staff."

In February, this year it emerged that the health board had begun legal action against three companies including main contractor Multiplex last month amid a raft of problems at the hospital including sewage leaks in operating theatres.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde published a summons, which sought to recoup £72.8m in losses and damages.

It said several problems had compromised the hospital’s “operational effectiveness” since it opened in 2015, and this had “impacted on the seamless delivery of safe and effective healthcare”.

READ MORE: Cladding to be removed from Glasgow hospital as a precaution [2017]

Details of the action set out where NHSGGC's requirements were "not met in either design, commissioning or building stages" in 11 specific areas.

These include the water system, ventilation, toughened glazing, doors and an atrium roof.

Multiplex said at the time that the project was delivered "on time, on budget, and fully certified before its handover" to the board.

It said it was treating the matters raised with "utmost seriousness" and would continue to work "openly, proactively and transparently" with the board.

The legal action came five months after the Scottish government announced a public inquiry into issues surrounding the Glasgow hospital and Edinburgh's new children's hospital.

It was expected to look at how the design, handover and maintenance contributed to ineffective infection control at the QUEH complex.

In November, last year, the health board was placed in "special measures" by the government amid criticism of its infection control procedures.

Sean Clerkin, campaign co-ordinator of the Scottish Tenants Association said in message to the health secretary: "I am calling on you to provide the necessary monies and authorisation to Greater Glasgow health board to strip out all of the combustible materials so that patients, hospital workers and visitors can be safe in this hospital."

A health board spokesman said: "At this time, there are no new requirements that necessitate the replacement of the Kingspan K15 insulation. However, we will, as a matter of course, ensure that we are responsive to any future changes in regulatory requirements. The hospital is designed and equipped to the highest standards for fire safety. It has heat and smoke fire alarm systems combined with automatic fire suppression sprinkler systems fitted in all areas, is equipped with designated fire-fighting apparatus and has fire evacuation lifts.

"The application for a building warrant was to remove K15 insulation and install an alternative cladding system only in areas where the insulation was used in conjunction with Alucobond ACM panels. This work has been completed.

"The panels on the rest of the building are suitable for use in combination with K15 insulation and remain. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service have stated they are content with the fire risk assessment and status of the hospital.

Last week, the health board said K15 insultation "does form part of the cladding systems and was not replaced as it does not pose a risk".