Before patients are moved to the new hospital later this year, we’re asking residents in the relevant boroughs (Please link word boroughs to doc attached) to sign up for the Thames Valley alerts system which is simple to use, easy to register and more responsive to local needs.
The sirens have been part of the Broadmoor Hospital security system for over 65 years and, due to advances in technology and failure of outdated equipment, they are no longer part of our robust security system. However, we understand that this decommissioning exercise is likely to cause some concern, so have answered some frequently asked questions below. Should you require any further information, please contact us.
FAQS about the Decommissioning of the sirens
Why can’t the sirens be retained?
Broadmoor Hospital sirens can no longer be maintained, due to the unreliability of copper wiring communication links and an infrastructure that requires an extensive upgrade.
Many have failed in recent years, and an independent survey revealed outdated technology, high maintenance costs and a need for an expensive refurbishment, which would only extended their lifespan.
Following an assessment of the situation, security improvements in the new hospital and possibility of more informative, modern systems it was agreed that the significant investment required did not constitute the best use of public funds, given the current financial climate of the NHS.
If the sirens are unnecessary, why have they not been decommissioned before?
This led us to a number of meetings with local partners to discuss how we can work together and provide a modern, responsive alert system. The additional layer of security resulting from the new layout, advances in security techniques since the sirens were installed in the 1950, huge advances in technology and improvements to working practices over the years have all contributed to the opportunity to decommission the sirens.
Why were the sirens allowed to get into such a state of disrepair?
All sirens have been monitored regularly in accordance with national guidance. However, it is not only due to their physical condition as to why they cannot be repaired, but the fact that they use WWII technology, some of which is now obsolete.
Their copper wiring, which is continuously being stolen, either causing the sirens to malfunction or be taken out of use altogether whilst repairs are carried out. None of these situations are ideal, are extremely confusing for local residents and will be eradicated by the new alert system.
How have local residents been consulted?
Since decommissioning discussions began in 2014, there have been a number of engagement workshops, conversations with local council leaders and MPs as well as presentations at residents meetings.
As a result of our confidence in the robustness of our existing and future security, over the years our director of security has also invited a number of visitors into both buildings for a tour and explanation of how our relational, procedural and physical elements of security all work together to make the possibility of a patient escape very unlikely.
When will the existing sirens be turned off?
The decommissioning of sirens has been happening in stages. In 2014, it was agreed while we would retain the sirens, they would not be repaired unless economically viable. Since then many have failed and been taken out of use. One siren now remains, located in Cricket Field Grove, Crowthorne.
In addition to this siren, we continue to work very closely with Thames Valley Police. We also regularly test our school cascade system, which in the highly unlikely event of an escape would notify all schools in the area immediately.
How will new systems be tested to ensure they are working at all times?
The new sirens will be tested by the security team on a regular basis. However, because this test will be carried out silently, residents will not hear it on a weekly basis as they do now. However, you can listen to the new siren and all clear, so you are aware of what sound will be made in the highly unlikely event of a patient escape.
What will the trust do with the money it saves?
Broadmoor Hospital is managed by West London NHS Trust. Every year, we are also responsible for providing mental health inpatient care and community services to around 62,570 people living in the London boroughs of Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham and Hounslow.
This includes a wide range of services for all sections of the population from children to the elderly. Given the current financial situation of the NHS, we are under increasing pressure to make our budgets stretch further and look at how funds might be better spent to make the most difference and bring about the best improvements.
As a result, the money we save through the decommissioning of this obsolete equipment will be reinvested back into patient care.
When will the alternative system start?
Although the Broadmoor Hospital alerts will not officially begin until our patients move into the new hospital, we will shortly begin running the alternative system alongside the existing remaining sirens. This means as a local resident, you can register your details straight away.
How do I sign up?
Visit www.thamesvalleyalert.co.uk , select register now and follow the instructions. Once you have completed the registration process, you will receive a verification email to the address given. Please note, it is essential you complete this part of the process as you will not be registered for any alerts until you have verified your application.
Who will have access to my details?
Thames Valley Police will be the only organisation to have access to your details. Your email address or any of the other details provided will not be shared with the Trust or any other partnership organisations.
Will I need to renew my registration?
No, once you have registered to alerts, you will continue to receive selected alerts unless you inform Thames Valley Police that you wish to unsubscribe.
What will happen to the old sirens?
The future of the sirens remains to be decided. We are in contact with number of museums, specialist interest groups and Berkshire Archives to discuss the possibility of donating some or all of the equipment to them following decommissioning.
Once these discussions have been completed, we will have a clearer idea of what, if any, equipment is available at which point the Trust Board will decide what will happen to the remaining sirens.