RAAC buildings: NHS internal documents warn some hospitals are at risk of 'catastrophic' collapse

New internal documents from the NHS has shown that some hospitals are at risk of
New internal documents from the NHS has shown that some hospitals are at risk of "catastrophic collapse" due to collapse-prone material RAAC used in construction. (Credit: Getty Images)

Internal documents have shown that hospital buildings in England could be on the verge of "catastrophic" collapse due to the risk posed by RAAC.

Structural survey reports and risk assessments have detailed just how at-risk health facilities are at of collapse in England. It comes after more than 100 schools were forced to fully or partial close their buildings due to the use of RAAC (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete).

While the buildings constructed using the material could be prone to collapse, it may also release asbestos fibres if it was to collapse. In one of the reports, it was found that the hospital had planned to provide staff and patients with FFP3 masks in the event of this, however added that they "would not protect people in area of collapse".

It comes as NHS bosses were warned that if a collapse should occur, they may face corporate manslaughter charges if any patients are killed.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn is reportedly the most propped-up roof in England, with 4,300 pieces of wood and metal holding up the roof of the facility. West Suffolk Hospital is also believed to be one of the worse-affected sites with RAAC, with a report from April detailing that the building was at risk of "catastrophic" and "likey" collapse.

Leighton Hospital in Cheshrire was also singled out, being made of 60% RAAC. Meanwhile, the reports found that Southampton General Hospital had "major defects", with the local NHS trust warned in 2006 that the planks in the roof only had a life span of around a decade left.

The government has committed to "eradicating" RAAC completely from healthcare buildings by 2035.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "The NHS has a mitigation plan in place for hospital buildings with confirmed RAAC, backed with significant additional funding of £698m from 2021 to 2025, for trusts to put in place necessary remediation and failsafe measures. We remain committed to eradicating RAAC from the NHS estate entirely by 2035.

"The technical advice received from the NHS is that the current approach to monitoring and mitigation remains appropriate.”

Labour has spearheaded a campaign to audit all public sector buildings made with RAAC in the past after schools were forced shut. Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the party, said: "The safety of the public is not being taken seriously by this reckless Tory Government. If public safety is at risk, we need to know urgently. The Government sat on their hands for years and then shut schools the week before term starts.

"We cannot let them lurch from crisis to crisis. The public needs to know how much damage the Tories have done to our schools, prisons, hospitals and job centres over the past 13 years of incompetent government.

Wes Streeting, Labour's shadow health secretary, said that the whole affair painted a "terrifying picture of the state of our hospitals after 13 years of Conservative neglect”. Speaking to The Sunday Times, he said: “The Conservatives literally didn’t fix the roof when the sun was shining and now patients’ safety is at risk.”