‘No two projects likely to be the same’ for hospital lifts

Graham Barker, a Partner and the head of Vertical Transportation at multidisciplinary engineering consultancy, Cundall, discusses some of his experience delivering lift projects in the NHS, and some of the consistent issues he has encountered, and how these can best be addressed. He also highlights the key guidance and regulatory requirements for the safe operation and maintenance of lifts in healthcare premises, the ramifications of BT’s decision to switch off the existing analogue (copper) phone line system from September 2025, and the key capital investment considerations around new or refurbished lifts.

Within the UK lift industry, there has been a regulatory requirement to fit communication devices to new passenger lifts since the introduction of EN 81-1 and EN 81-2 in 1998. However, most lifts in a hospital environment had telephones within them long before this. While the majority of lifts installed in the UK have communication systems which dial out to the lift maintenance company, in hospital locations it is usual that lift communication systems call an emergency phone within the hospital's emergency contact centre. It's essential that lift emergency communications are operational, and that they connect to a 24/7 emergency contact centre where staff can arrange for the rescue of the trapped passengers.

HTM 08-02: Lifts recommends that lift communication systems are checked daily. This should form part of a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the identified Lift Stewards (a defined role under the HTM). Note that the standard associated with lift communication (EN81-28) requires that lift emergency communication systems are checked at least every 72 hours. This means that Trust Estates teams will typically find that they have two different types of lift telecom systems to manage:

1. Internal telephone line connections in a hospital environment.

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