Lewisham University Hospital named on list of buildings that contain unsafe RAAC concrete

University Hospital Lewisham. Pic: Molly Smith

Lewisham University Hospital has been named by the Department of Health and Social Care as one of 42 UK hospitals impacted by potentially unsafe concrete.

The list confirmed that the hospital on Lewisham High Street has buildings containing reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).

RAAC is prone to sudden failures as it ages and could put buildings at risk of collapse

An NHS spokesperson said: “Where RAAC has been identified, full structural surveys will be undertaken, with mitigations and local maintenance programmes put in place to maintain safety for staff, patients and visitors and ensure patients can continue to receive the best possible care.”

In May, the government ordered NHS trusts in England to carry out checks of their facilities to determine whether or not they contained any amount of RAAC. 

RAAC was a popular building material from the 1950s up until the 1990s due to it being cost effective, lightweight and easy to install. 

But in the 1990s experts determined that the concrete’s lifespan is limited to approximately 30 years, with the material becoming prone to sudden failures as it ages.

In 1996 the Government funded a report by the Building Research Establishment, which found cracked RAAC in housing developments and schools. They advised that any RAAC panels that were in visually poor condition should be inspected annually and those in good condition should be inspected every five years.

However, in 2002 the same body stated that RAAC panels that were over 30 years old possessed a risk of collapse with no warning. 

Lewisham University Hospital is now part of a funding programme to enable NHS trusts to put in place necessary remediation and failsafe measures for their sites.

This program has already seen the eradication of RAAC from three sites, with seven of the worst-affected hospitals scheduled for a full replacement by 2030. 

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