More than 30 hospital buildings in England have roofs so rotten they could collapse at any time, ministers have admitted.
Hinchingbrooke in Cambridgeshire and Frimley Park in Surrey are among 16 hospital trusts known to have deteriorated roofs made from reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).
The material was used to build hospitals and schools in the 60s, 70s and 80s, but has a lifespan of 30 years – which is now coming back to bite.
Some trusts use hundreds of steel columns to hold up the roof and reduce the risk of it collapsing.
Hinchingbrooke has banned patients weighing more than 19 stone from surgery in two of its theaters in case they collapse through the floor.
Health Secretary Maria Caulfield admitted the extent of the problem, without identifying the hospitals, in a written response to the Liberal Democrats’ Daisy Cooper.
She said investigations carried out by the NHS found 34 buildings at 16 different trusts contained RAACs, but would not say how many were places where patients are treated.
Tory leadership leader Liz Truss mentioned the problems affecting the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in her South West Norfolk constituency in a debate earlier this month.
The hospital’s chief executive Caroline Shaw compared the situation to a “ticking time bomb”.
She told The Sunday Times: “The roof is like a chocolate Aero bar – there are bubbles in the concrete and we check it daily to make sure those bubbles don’t break and the roof doesn’t fall.”
A spokesperson said the Department of Health “has provided more than £4 billion” to trusts to improve infrastructure and maintain or refurbish their premises.
They said over £685 million has been set aside to directly address the problem of crumbling RAAC roofs.
“By 2030 we will have 40 new hospitals that will provide state-of-the-art facilities to ensure world-class healthcare for NHS patients and staff by replacing outdated infrastructure,” they added.
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