A power cut that plunged QEQM Hospital’s A&E department into darkness for severa; hours last night (February 20) was caused by thieves trying to steal electrical cables.
The outage occurred at around 7pm and power was not restored until just before 11pm.
Ambulances had to divert to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford as the department was unable to accept any more patients. Doctors and nurses were reduced to working by torchlight and mobile phone lights.
Kent Fire and Rescue was brought in to provide emergency flood lighting. Other areas of the hospital were unaffected.
A statement from Trust Chief Executive Susan Acott thanked staff for working through the outage and maintaining the care and safety of patients.
She added: “The situation was caused by an attempted theft of electrical cables at QEQM shortly after 7pm. These cables connect the building to the backup emergency generator and were damaged along with other cables that control the power in part of the hospital.
“The Trust UPS back-up systems for critical equipment maintained power which allowed staff to safely move patients to unaffected parts of the hospital. The site was supported by Kent Fire and Rescue teams providing emergency lighting.
“William Harvey Hospital became the receiving hospital for emergency patients and K&C and BHD were on standby for minor injuries patients. The 2gether team were able to repair the damaged cables and reinstate power just before 11pm and the staff on site have worked quickly and safely to return to normal operating.
“A huge thank you to every member of staff working last night who made sure patient care was not compromised and worked hard to restore services as quickly as possible. Thank you too, to our colleagues at Kent Fire and Rescue, Kent Police and SECAMB for their support.”
Praise for staff
Dot Favell, from Birchington, was at the A&E with her 90-year-old mum last night. She said: “Priority had to be given to patients on heart monitors but the staff coped with a can-do attitude and were amazing. The low life scum who put patients lives at risk need catching and locking up for a very long time. I cannot believe that anyone’s heart is black enough to do that to a hospital.”
Kent Police has confirmed officers form the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate are investigating the incident. A spokesperson said: “Kent Police was called at 9.08pm to the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital following reports the site’s power lines had been damaged.
“Detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate are investigating the incident and appealing for anyone with information about the damage to come forward and assist them with their enquiries.”
Witnesses should call 01843 222289 quoting reference 20-1742 or the independent charity Crimestoppers in Kent anonymously on 0800 555111.