Continuing RAAC concerns underline risks of ageing NHS estate

08 September 2023

Responding to research from the House of Commons library which has been shared by the Liberal Democrats showing 1.9 million people live in the catchment areas of seven NHS hospital sites affected by reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) with approximately 43,000 NHS staff working at the affected hospital trusts, the director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, Miriam Deakin, said:

"Trust leaders repeatedly warned that RAAC presented major risks to the safety of patients, staff and services.

"Investment is now being made available through the New Hospital Programme (NHP) with the seven most critically-affected RAAC trusts due to be replaced by 2030. But it is worrying for patients and staff that those with remaining RAAC planks may have to wait as long as another 12 years before this unsafe concrete will be eradicated from their buildings.

"There could still be more cases to come to light with senior NHS and Department of Health and Social Care officials confirming further sites across the NHS estate are now being checked for RAAC.

"But the concerns around the NHS estate extend way beyond RAAC trusts. There are many that missed out on extra money in the recent NHP announcement that still need major investment to refurbish their ageing buildings, and to tackle other infrastructure risks that can jeopardise patient and staff safety.

"With the NHS facing a massive repair bill of around £11bn in today's prices – much of it high-risk – trusts are racking up significant costs as they try to patch up creaking infrastructure and out-of-date facilities to keep patients, staff and services safe. Reports that the health service is having to close units and theatres 'day in and day out' because of deteriorating estates and fire risks are deeply concerning.

"There is a major worry that the condition of these buildings will only get worse as time goes on, putting patients, visitors and staff at greater risk."