The team behind the New Hospital Programme has announced that five hospitals constructed mostly using reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) will be rebuilt by 2030 as part of the Programme.
The five hospitals are Airedale General Hospital in West Yorkshire, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn, in Norfolk, Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire, Leighton Hospital in Crewe, and Frimley Park in Surrey. The Department of Health & Social Care says this is ‘on top of two of the worst-affected hospitals’ – West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, and James Paget University Hospital in Norfolk. A Department of Health & Social Care statement explained that the NHS had asked the Government to prioritise the rebuilding of these hospitals ‘given the risks they pose to patients and staff’ – the full extent of which had come to light since the New Hospital Programme was first announced in 2020.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Steve Barclay (pictured), said: “These five hospitals are in pressing need of repair, and are being prioritised so patients and staff can benefit from major new hospital buildings, equipped with the latest technology. On top of this I’m strengthening our New Hospital Programme by today confirming that it is expected to represent more than £20 billion of new investment in hospital infrastructure. As we approach the 75th anniversary of our fantastic NHS, this extra investment will ensure that it can care for patients for decades to come, and help cut waiting lists so they get the treatment they need quicker.”
The Government emphasised in the 25 May announcement that it remains ‘on track’ to deliver the manifesto commitment to build 40 new hospitals in England by 2030. The DHSC said of the five hospitals earmarked for priority action on RAAC: “Recent detailed structural assessment of the additional five sites has confirmed they are not safe to operate beyond 2030, and so to ensure that they can continue caring for patients, they need to be rebuilt, as the current propping and risk mitigation cannot be a long-term fix.
The Department added: “We remain committed to eradicating RAAC from the wider NHS estate by 2035, and have already allocated £685 million in immediate support to help keep patients and staff safe, including to these five hospitals. The five RAAC Trusts joining NHP will still be able to access this separate national fund. We will discuss the updated assessment of need with each Trust, considering the Government’s decision to re-build the hospital as soon as possible.”
The DHSC added that ‘as a result of re-prioritisation, as well as the rising cost of construction materials’, eight schemes originally due to be constructed towards the end of the decade (known as Cohort 4) will now be completed past 2030, ‘though they will all be in build’. The Government promises to ‘keep the situation under review’, and to ‘do everything it can’ to accelerate the completion timeline of the hospitals impacted, ‘if circumstances allow.’