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NHS managers must ‘act urgently’ to protect nurses and patients in buildings at risk of collapse

The RCN have responded to the reports from government that NHS hospitals in England should prepare to evacuate staff and patients in buildings at risk of collapse

The RCN have called for managers and maintenance officials to ‘act urgently’ to protect staff and patients who are working or being treated in buildings at risk of collapse due to unsafe concrete.

NHS staff are to prepare for patient and staff evacuation, as 19 hospital trusts are reported to have the largest number of buildings constructed ‘either wholly or in major part with RAAC’. At least seven of these are thought to be at ‘critical’ risk of collapse before 2030.

RCN head of health, safety and wellbeing, Leona Cameron said: ‘Staff must be properly briefed by their employer and provided with relevant information concerning their place of work. Employers have a legal duty to make sure staff, and others who could be affected, such as patients and visitors, are safe. Staff should have no qualms in raising concerns with their employer if they’re worried about the buildings they’re working in. 

RAAC is a cheap, lightweight concrete, which stopped being used in construction in the 1990s. News broke this week that hundreds of public buildings, including schools and hospitals, are being held up by crumbling concrete, putting lives in danger.

Sir Kier Starmer accused the government of being ‘cowboy builders’  who are seeking to shift the blame for the concrete crisis during Prime Minister’s questions this morning. But Rishi Sunak declared the government acted ‘decisively’ on the crisis and called Starmer ‘captain hindsight’.

Ms Cameron said: ‘Nursing staff and patients deserve to feel safe and will be alarmed at this letter warning trusts to get ready to evacuate hospitals if they are at risk of collapse.’