Five major hospitals are to be rebuilt after being found to pose a risk to the public.
The UK Government has pledged to prioritise five NHS sites for renewal by 2030, after pressure from the healthcare community.
All five have been found to contain significant amounts of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) – a lightweight material used to build parts of the NHS estate between the 1960s and 1980s but which has a limited lifespan, after which it deteriorates rapidly, having usually developed air pockets inside.
Some NHS sites are even being propped up with scaffolding rigs and posts, reported the BBC.
The five hospitals have been added to the UK Government’s New Hospital Programme (NHP), which aims to build 40 new sites in England by 2030.
However, work has yet to start on 33 of them since the programme was first announced in 2020, according to a recent BBC investigation.
“Two hospitals in the New Hospital Programme are already complete and five in construction. By the end of next year more than 20 will be underway or complete,” said the Department for Health and Social Care.
More than £20 billion is expected to be spent on the new hospital infrastructure.
The five hospitals
- Airedale in West Yorkshire
- Queen Elizabeth King’s Lynn in Norfolk
- Hinchingbrooke in Cambridgeshire
- Mid Cheshire Leighton in Cheshire
- Frimley Park in Surrey
Additionally, West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds and James Paget Hospital in Norfolk – two of the worst affected – have also already been announced as priorities under the NHP.
As a result of this reprioritisation, as well as the rising cost of construction materials, up to eight schemes originally due to be rebuilt towards the end of the decade will now be completed past 2030, ministers said.
The government said it will “keep the situation under review and do everything it can to accelerate the completion timeline”, if circumstances allow.
It added it remains committed to eradicating RAAC from the wider NHS estate by 2035.
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