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Hospital-collapse concerns resurface a year after initial reports

Thirty-four hospital buildings in England have roofs manufactured from concrete which are prone to collapse, ministers have revealed.

Final yr the BBC discovered that quite a few NHS services with roofs, flooring and partitions created from planks of strengthened autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) might undergo from structural collapse because the buildings exceeded their anticipated 30-year lifespans.

The broadcaster additionally revealed that West Suffolk Hospital NHS Basis Belief had been compelled to spend tens of tens of millions of kilos making secure harmful strengthened concrete planks in its primary constructing.

Development Information reported final yr that the hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, had launched a rolling programme of checks on its planks and carries out instant remedial mitigation work.

Nevertheless, contemporary issues in regards to the security of hospitals have been raised after well being minister Maria Caulfield revealed that greater than 30 hospital buildings comprise RAAC planks.

Responding to a written query from Liberal Democrat MP Daisy Cooper in regards to the variety of hospitals in England estimated to be fitted with RAAC, Caulfield mentioned constructing surveys by the NHS had discovered that 34 services at 16 trusts have been affected.

Caulfield insisted these with RAAC planks had employed structural surveys to “assess the situation of the infrastructure” – including that £110m of ring-fenced funding had been offered to mitigate the “instant danger”.

Additionally they will obtain an additional £575m within the present Spending Assessment interval, she mentioned. A authorities spokesperson added that the extent of RAAC “varies significantly” between services.

In response to the BBC final yr, West Suffolk Hospital NHS Basis Belief carried out a danger evaluation saying a plank collapse was “probably” and investigated company manslaughter dangers regarding this.

It additionally discovered NHS England had drawn up a “mass casualty plan” within the occasion of a structural failure at an jap England hospital, whereas a report launched by North West Anglia NHS Basis Belief in June 2021 confirmed it couldn’t deal with heavier sufferers in some elements of the Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

A spokesperson for West Suffolk Hospital NHS Basis Belief advised CN that greater than two-thirds of roof planks on the principle hospital constructing now had helps in place as a part of the precautionary programme of upkeep works being applied, nearly all of which embrace failsafe roof helps.

They mentioned: “We have now all the time adopted professional, impartial recommendation with regards to the administration of our buildings, and proceed to ship a secure service for sufferers, guests, and employees.”

The federal government has already included two hospitals affected by RAAC in its New Hospitals Programme, West Suffolk Hospital and James Paget Hospital, and says it “proceed[s] to handle” different hospitals affected by offering “short-term funding to mitigate instant dangers, and substitute the affected websites the place obligatory”.

A Division of Well being and Social Care (DHSC) spokesperson mentioned: “We’re taking motion to enhance well being infrastructure throughout the nation, and have offered greater than £4bn for trusts to help native priorities together with to keep up and refurbish their premises, and have put aside over £685m to straight handle points regarding using RAAC within the NHS property.

“By 2030 we can have 40 new hospitals which can present state-of-the-art services to make sure world-class provision of healthcare for NHS sufferers and employees by changing outdated infrastructure.”

North West Anglia NHS Basis Belief was approached for remark.