Five crumbling NHS hospitals in danger of collapsing will be rebuilt under £20billion scheme
Five hospitals threatened with collapse due to deteriorating concrete are being rebuilt, the government has announced.
The hospitals are all built with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) and have been deemed so dilapidated as to compromise staff and patient safety, and many require scaffolding to prevent roof collapses.
They include Airedale in West Yorkshire, Queen Elizabeth King’s Lynn in Norfolk, Hinchingbrooke in Cambridgeshire, Mid Cheshire Leighton and Surrey’s Frimley Park.
They will now be part of the government’s commitment to build 40 new hospitals by 2030, the health minister revealed.
Yesterday, Steve Barclay said the government is sticking to its manifesto pledge for 2019, which saw a record £20bn spent on hospital infrastructure.
Five hospitals threatened with collapse due to deteriorating concrete are being rebuilt, the government has announced. Pictured: Airedale General Hospital
They include Queen Elizabeth King’s Lynn in Norfolk, Hinchingbrooke in Cambridgeshire (pictured), Mid Cheshire Leighton and Surrey’s Frimley Park
He said: ‘These five hospitals are in urgent need of repair and are being prioritized so that patients and staff can benefit from large new hospital buildings equipped with the latest technology.’
Major concerns have been raised about the future of several NHS hospitals that contain significant amounts of RAAC.
The lightweight concrete, with a limited lifespan, was used in roofs, floors and walls between the 1960s and 1980s.
Ministers say the full extent of the dangers have only come to light since the new hospital program was announced in 2020.
Mr Barclay told MPs the government remains committed to eradicating RAAC from the NHS estate, with seven hospitals built wholly or mostly using materials that are ‘not safe to operate after 2030’.
He said: ‘We fully accept the independent assessment that these hospitals cannot operate safely after 2030.
And today I can confirm to the House that we will expand our new hospital program to include the five hospitals built with significant amounts of RAAC.
“Together with the two RAAC hospitals already in the program, the seven RAAC hospitals will be completely rebuilt to a standardized design, known as Hospital 2.0, with the goal of completing all seven by 2030.
“And I can confirm to the House today that these new hospitals will be fully funded.”
Eight schemes are now being delivered later than originally planned and after 2030, so that these five new developments can be prioritized.
Mr Barclay said existing schedules for hospital construction ‘all continue but the commitment to be completed by 2030 applies to the 40 plans set out today’, adding that this ‘meets our manifest commitment to build 40 hospitals by 2030’.
But there are allegations that the government is threatening to break its election promise by including existing hospitals in its count. Due to the move, work at eight other planned locations may be delayed.
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting accused the government of over-promising, adding ‘the pledge to build 40 new hospitals by 2030 is simply not going to happen’.
Sir Julian Hartley, CEO of NHS Providers, which represents hospitals, welcomed news of the refurbishments but said some trusts would be disappointed by the delays.
More than 90 other trusts had applied for funding but were turned down, he added, and trusts that failed still needed “major capital investments to overhaul aging estates.”
He said: ‘The cost of fixing creaking infrastructure and aging facilities is soaring, with a multibillion-pound backlog in the NHS growing at an alarming rate.
“Without proper funding for safe, efficient and reliable buildings and equipment that patients and staff need, the quality of care is at risk.”