Five hospitals constructed mostly using reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) will be rebuilt by 2030 as part of the New Hospital Programme.
The 5 hospitals are Airedale in West Yorkshire, Queen Elizabeth King’s Lynn in Norfolk, Hinchingbrooke in Cambridgeshire, Mid Cheshire Leighton in Cheshire and Frimley Park in Surrey. These hospitals all have significant amounts of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) – a lightweight type of concrete used to construct parts of the NHS estate in the past but which has a limited lifespan, after which it deteriorates significantly.
The NHS has asked the government to prioritise the rebuilding of these hospitals given the risks they pose to patients and staff – the full extent of which has come to light since the New Hospital Programme was first announced in 2020.
Two of the worst affected hospitals – West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds and James Paget Hospital in Norfolk – have already been announced as part of the New Hospital Programme and the construction of these major new hospitals will be prioritised to ensure patient and staff safety.
As a result of this reprioritisation, as well as the rising cost of construction materials, up to 8 schemes that were originally due to be constructed towards the end of the decade will now be completed past 2030.
The government remains committed to delivering all hospitals within the programme as soon as possible – the biggest in a generation – and will ensure all schemes have adequate funding.
It is on track to deliver the manifesto commitment to build 40 new hospitals in England by 2030, because in addition to the 5 RAAC hospitals, 3 mental health hospitals will also be delivered through wider capital funding by 2030 – as part of a commitment to eradicate dormitory accommodation from mental health facilities across the country and put mental health on an equal footing to physical health.
Two hospitals in the New Hospital Programme are already complete and 5 in construction. By the end of next year more than 20 will be underway or complete.
The government will keep the situation under review and do everything it can to accelerate the completion timeline of the hospitals impacted, if circumstances allow. The New Hospital Programme will continue to work closely with new and existing schemes on their plans to ensure they deliver for patients, staff and communities.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Steve Barclay, said: "These 5 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 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 it can care for patients for decades to come and help cut waiting lists so they get the treatment they need quicker."
Going forward, new schemes will be considered through a rolling programme of capital investment in hospital infrastructure to secure the building of new hospitals beyond 2030. It will mean further future investment to upgrade NHS facilities across the country, with details to be agreed periodically to provide greater future certainty, and will allow more than 40 new hospitals to be built in the longer term.
By developing a national approach to delivering new hospitals, they can be built more quickly and at a reduced cost, providing value for taxpayers. Patients and staff will benefit from modern hospital design making use of the latest technology, digital innovation and sustainability to improve overall patient experience and provide a better working environment for staff.
This is in addition to substantial wider capital investment which is delivering vital improvements across the NHS, including major upgrades.
The government says that it remains committed to eradicating RAAC from the wider NHS estate by 2035 and has already allocated £685 million in immediate support to affected Trusts to help keep patients and staff safe.