Seriously ill patients were given ear plugs to block out the noise of building work at a Scottish hospital. New fire escapes are being installed near the coronary care unit of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and, until recently, up to 35 heart patients had to endure hours of drilling and hammering as contractors attempted to break through the granite walls. Building work was suspended last week, while Grampian University Hospitals trust tried to think of another solution to the problem. A spokesperson said: 'As yet there seems to be no way round the fact that granite walls cannot be drilled through quietly.' The work, which is expected to last another four weeks, is also affecting staff. They were unable to wear the ear plugs because they needed to be able to hear phones, monitors and alarms.