Posted on 08 September 2023

​First it was the schools. Now, NHS England has informed hospitals which may be impacted to potentially evacuate in case of catastrophic ceiling failure, following a nationwide issue causing many schools to close their doors. The topic has taken off this week following the discovery of Reinforced Aerated Autoclaved Concrete in schools across the country with over 100 seeking other accommodation or mitigation measures. The problem is thought to affect more than just hospitals and schools, with signs social housing is now beginning to be investigated, particularly properties with flat roofs.

The concrete, used from the mid 1950’s up until the mid-1990’s, is suspected across the 224 health trusts in the NHS, with the national director of emergency planning and incident response Dr Mike Prentice sending writing to trust officers to ask them to familiarise themselves with a regional evacuation plan should their buildings begin to crumble. What’s more, 19 trusts are highly suspected to have RAAC right now, and have been asked to begin to deal with the issue as a matter of priority. The regional evacuation plan they refer to was drawn up for a trust in the east of England and learnings from the exercise have been cascaded to other trusts. The letter read, “We would recommend that all [trust] boards ensure that they are familiar with the learning from this exercise and that they are being incorporated into standard business continuity planning as a matter of good practice. This exercise is, however, essential for those organisations with known RAAC, and should be done as a matter of priority if it has not already been completed”.

The royal college of nursing has said in a statement they would be ‘alarmed’ if trusts were in such a bad position with RAAC they were having to draw up evacuation plans, “Nursing staff and patients deserve to feel safe and will be alarmed at this letter warning trusts to get ready to evacuate hospitals if they are at risk of collapse,” said Leona Cameron, its head of health, safety and wellbeing. It is believed 7 trusts have hospitals made almost entirely of RAAC plans and 12 others have at least one building that was erected using the material. The Queen Elizabeth hospital in Norfolk is currently reinforced with 2,400 props holding up the roof because of the fear of collapse. NHS England likely expects hospital surveyors and other facilities managers to begin to conduct surveys and begin to get an understanding of buildings likely built with the material and begin to identify structures which are out of their very limited 30-year lifespan.

Saffron Cordery, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers said: “Trust leaders repeatedly warned that RAAC presented a major risk to patient and staff safety and they will do everything they can to ensure patients, staff and services remain safe, including having stringent monitoring and evacuation plans in place for hospital buildings built with RAAC planks.” Below is a putative list of hospitals with RAAC in the UK published recently in the Evening Standard.

List of NHS hospitals “made nearly exclusively” of RAAC:

  • Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn

  • Leighton Hospital

  • James Paget Hospital

  • Frimley Park Hospital

  • Hinchingbrooke Hospital

  • Airedale Hospital

  • West Suffolk Hospital 

Other NHS hospitals and buildings affected:

  • Broomfield Hospital, Building 60

  • Blackpool Victoria Hospital, Block 44 and Block 8

  • Southampton General Hospital Laboratory and Pathology Block

  • Bassetlaw and District General Hospital mental illness buildings and theatres 1-4

  • Kidderminster Hospital Block A

  • Scarborough General Hospital pathology, pathology link corridor, theatre, attic, plant room, and north/south block link corridor.

  • Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital Level 4, R14 and R15

  • The Royal Oldham hospital roof and The Salford Royal Turnberg building

  • Haywood Hospital

  • Aintree University Hospital Tower block plant rooms, main kitchen, Clinics A, B, C, D, and F, Domestic services centre, imagine department, Ward 6, Theatre A plantroom/recovery, pre-op

  • Haverhill Health Centre

  • Warren Farm Health Centre

Share this article