“Ticking time bombs and chocolate aeros” 30 NHS hospitals and buildings ‘could collapse without warning’

NHS hospitals have had to turn to thousands of metal props to keep their buildings safe due to a concrete compared to 'chocolate aero' (Image: QEH)

It isn’t often that concrete makes headline news but there’s clearly something in the water…

Or maybe in this case…there’s water in the something?

Namely the steel.

We’ve been featured on the BBC news twice already this year, looking at defective and delaminated concrete from Brent to Brighton and we are not the only ones to have been doing a little digging around.

In fact, no digging was really needed by the Daily Mirror to unearth these hospital horror stories, which last year were labelled “ticking time bombs” by Caroline Shaw the then Chief Executive Officer of The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust.

In the space of less than a year they’ve now morphed from “ticking time bombs” into a sweeter sounding but no less malignant problem….”chocolate aeros”.

The Mirror reports that it could cost circa £1 billion to repair them (hi there by the way, we’re over here!) and the government has been slammed for ‘not fixing the roof when the sun was shining’.

It all comes (crumbling) down to RAAC – or Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete. It is often seen as a cheaper, lighter alternative to traditional concrete and was all the rage in the 60s up to the 90s and has these “bubbles” within it – hence the aero reference.

However, as with many things, cheaper isn’t always better value in the longer term and now there’s a real concern for how long these structures will last and how they can be repaired.

Worryingly, the Mirror reports that it appears some of the hospitals named in the report are made “nearly exclusively” of the dangerous concrete, according to Mid Cheshire Hospitals Foundation Trust chief executive James Summer, whilst others just have a few buildings in jeopardy.

Either way, this is a problem that is not going to melt away but with Billions of pounds needed, this will be a call for the Department of Health and Social Care.

Without wishing to add to the sense of emergency, we suggest it is a 999 call, not a 111.

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