Seven NHS hospitals with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) need to be fully replaced, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has said.
Currently, an undisclosed number of NHS sites have been confirmed to have RAAC plank construction.
Of these, seven ‘need a full replacement’ and will be rebuilt by 2030 via the New Hospital Programme, the Department said.
And NHS Property Services confirmed that three primary care sites are part of the national remediation programme.
RAAC was used extensively in the construction of public buildings in England from the late 1940s through to the 1990s, but has since been recognised as having a lasting life of around 30 years.
Airedale, Queen Elizabeth King’s Lynn, Hinchingbrooke, Mid Cheshire Leighton, Frimley Park, West Suffolk Hospital, James Paget Hospital are all included among the seven hospitals with buildings due to be replaced.
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust told Healthcare Leader that it has begun to failsafe clinical areas, which includes decanting and moving several medical wards.
And in Frimley health NHS Foundation Trust said that it has received planning permission for a new extension due to be completed by the end of 2024, which will allow for refurbishment and remedial work on areas affected by RAAC planking.
The use of RAAC in school sites – following a collapsed roof in 2018 – has brought the risks posed by the concrete’s short lifespan under scrutiny this week.
Each government department is responsible for reviewing RAAC risks within its remit, with the DHSC responsible for the NHS estate. The NHS has been surveying sites and undertaking RAAC mitigation work since 2019.
However, the presence of RAAC in hospitals differs to its use in schools, the DHSC said.
‘The hospital estate is mainly concentrated in a smaller number of larger buildings with dedicated teams of trained estates professionals who monitor and maintain them.
‘Where mitigation work is required, this can be carried out with relatively minimal service disruption in hospital settings where patients can be relocated to different wards if necessary,’ the DHSC stated in a media brief.