Close to two million patients are at risk from hospitals constructed with crumbling concrete, shocking research has revealed.
House of Commons Library research shows 1.9 million people live in the catchment areas of seven NHS hospital sites affected by reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).
The report, commissioned by the Liberal Democrats, found 43,000 NHS staff work at the hospital trusts impacted, including over 11,500 nurses and 4,850 doctors.
The material is at the heart of a concrete crisis that has seen more than 100 schools close with hundreds more at risk over building safety fears.
Widely used in the 1960s and 1970, with a lifespan of 30 years and a texture described as “bubbly”, the material was flagged as a safety risk in 2018 following the collapse of a school roof in Kent.
A report published in June revealed 400 other schools could be impacted by the material’s long-term use, putting an estimated 700,000 pupils at risk of being crushed.
It follows allegations the government has ignored the dangers of RAAC, following claims that the Department for Education had told Downing Street in 2022 of the ‘risk to life’ posed by crumbling concrete.
Rishi Sunak is under mounting pressure following revelations he refused to fully fund a programme to rebuild England’s crumbling schools when he was chancellor.
Jonathan Slater, who served as permanent secretary at the department from May 2016 to August 2020, said he was “absolutely amazed” the decision was made by the Treasury to halve the government budget for school repairs by half in 2021.
Senior politicians described the findings as a “national scandal” with the number of public buildings impacted by crumbling concrete expected to grow as checks continue to be carried out.
University Hospital Southampton was revealed as the largest hospital with affected patients, with 468,295 individuals living in its catchment area.
This was following by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals at 316,122 and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn with 249,000.
Analysts have warned four of the hospital sites are classed as being “mostly composed of RAAC” beams, with the number of sites at risk expected to increase.
Lib Dem leader, Sir Ed Davey, said: “It is frankly a national scandal that so many people live in areas with hospital buildings at risk of collapse.
“Hard-working doctors and nurses were the heroes of the pandemic, and deserve better than to work in unsafe conditions under roofs at risk of collapse.”
“This feels like a disaster waiting to happen with the NHS. The government must learn the lessons from their failure on crumbling schools and get these hospitals fixed as soon as possible.”