£5m funding bid as cash is sought to pay for removal of Teesside hospital trust's RAAC

Buildings affected by RAAC at the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton
Buildings affected by RAAC at the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton -Credit:North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust

A Teesside hospital trust has submitted a £4.9m bid aimed at funding the removal of a lightweight, ‘bubbly’ concrete which sparked safety concerns when found on its estate.

Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) was identified last year in seven building blocks at the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, five of which are used as offices and two for staff accommodation, along with a lecture theatre. Work to reinforce the structures and make the buildings safe were completed in March at a cost of about £1m, which has come out of the organisation’s own capital budget programme.

Hospital chiefs have since submitted a £4.9m bid to NHS England to cover the cost of removing the material at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, which would be phased over four years.

RAAC was commonly used in roofing and wall construction within the public sector between the 1950 and 1990s. The Government previously warned its life expectancy had expired with the risk that buildings could collapse without warning.

Last year it ordered remedial measures to be taken in instances where it had been identified following inspections, which led to the temporary closure of more than a hundred schools, with the likes of hospitals and court buildings also affected.

The North Tees trust has stressed there was never any risk to patients and no disruption to clinical services has resulted. A spokesman said removal of the RAAC “would be subject to the bid being approved” with no timescale having been provided as to when a decision may be made.

He referenced regular meetings being held with NHS England over the matter. Meanwhile, the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) understands that no assurances have been received by the trust over payment of the funds being sought.

The LDRS got in touch with NHS England, but was directed onto the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in order to obtain a requested comment, however none was received. Last year DHSC said “significant additional funding” of £698m was available for hospital trusts to put in place “necessary remediation and failsafe measures”.

The department also said it was committed to removing RAAC from the NHS entirely by 2035.

The Hardwick hospital site has been subject to repeated concerns over the deteriorating condition of parts of it with previous chief executive Julie Gillon describing critical care facilities as “not fit for purpose” and a large backlog of repairs being highlighted.

In May last year a £380m bid seeking investment in the site under the Government’s New Hospital Programme was overlooked, angering Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham. A planned project for a new ‘super hospital’ costing £460m, to be built at nearby Wynyard, also fell by the wayside in 2010.