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Hospitals face RAAC closure before replacement, report says

The federal government’s New Hospital Programme doesn’t look set ship on its targets, placing the way forward for some healthcare in danger, a damning report has discovered.

The Home of Commons Public Accounts Committee says it has no confidence that the UK authorities will ship the 32 new hospitals promised by 2030.

And its report warns that some hospitals might have to shut earlier than their replacements are prepared, because of the disaster over unsafe bolstered autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in buildings.

The committee accuses the federal government of raiding capital budgets for day-to-day spending with out contemplating the long-term penalties for affected person care, including that the new-build programme is struggling in consequence.

It additionally criticises the time taken over a brand new standardised design, often known as Hospital 2.0, which the Division of Well being and Social Care (DHSC) needs for use all through the programme. It warns that the time spent finalising the design is eroding its supposed value and supply schedule advantages.

The deliberate footprint within the 2.0 design might also be too small for future hospital wants, the committee notes, repeating a warning from the National Audit Office (NAO) in July.

And the report additionally says that the plan to make use of 2.0 for the seven hospitals that must be rebuilt because of the presence of RAAC is “questionable” given the urgency of the work wanted on them.

“The seriousness of the RAAC subject and the necessity to full these rebuilds by 2030 creates a robust case for procuring and establishing the seven hospitals below conventional strategies, even when that may imply not complying totally with the as but incomplete Hospital 2.0 design,” it says.

In May, it was introduced that 5 hospitals can be rebuilt below the programme as a result of their threat of collapse on account of the presence of RAAC. This was along with two RAAC-containing amenities already on the programme record. Subsequently, a total of 22 NHS bodies reported that their buildings contained the lifetime-expired materials.

Meg Hillier, who chairs the committee, mentioned: “The bodily edifice that’s the NHS is sort of actually crumbling earlier than our eyes.

“Fairly except for the truth that the deliberate new hospitals threat being too small for future functions, funding doesn’t even seem like in place to assemble them in time, all underpinned by failures of primary record-keeping, and contemporary and pressing issues over RAAC.”

The DHSC has been approached for remark.

The Public Accounts Committee additionally notes an absence of transparency within the collection of the 32 hospitals for the programme – a problem much like that which it had recognized in an earlier investigation of Division for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ (DLUHC) ideas for awarding levelling-up funding grants to poorly served areas of the nation.

A separate report launched right this moment by the NAO finds that DLUHC’s levelling-up tasks are behind the place they have been anticipated to be and are prone to miss their targets.

By the Cities Fund and Levelling-Up Fund, the division has distributed grants to “shovel prepared” tasks. However the report finds that, as of March 2023, 50 per cent of fundamental building contracts for Levelling-Up Fund Spherical 1 tasks that have been as a result of be delivered by March 2024 stay unsigned. 

That is additionally the case for 85 per cent of Levelling-Up Fund Spherical 2 tasks, that are as a result of be delivered by March 2025.

The NAO does word, nonetheless, that the division has lately improved its oversight of the funds.

A DLUHC spokesperson mentioned the figures within the report have been old-fashioned. They added: “Main regeneration tasks take time to ship, however a lot of tasks have accomplished.

“This consists of the redevelopment of the Farnworth Leisure Centre in Bolton, delivered as a part of a £13.3m dedication to Bolton Council by means of the Future Excessive Streets Fund.

“Due to the Cities Fund additionally, the Ingenium Centre in Darlington and a digi-tech manufacturing facility in Norwich have each opened their doorways.”