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Statement on RAAC concrete in West Suffolk Hospital from Dr Ewen Cameron, CEO of West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

As you may have seen, the Government has asked areas in schools affected by reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) to close whilst checks are carried out and mitigations are put in place to make those areas safe.

You may also be aware that the West Suffolk Hospital contains significant RAAC material in the roof and walls. Our highest priority has always, and will always be, the safety of our patients, staff and visitors.

As such, over the last few years we have been carrying out an extensive and robust estates maintenance programme. This includes the installation of ‘end bearing extensions’ and ‘failsafe supports’ to mitigate the risk of a failing roof RAAC plank. Additionally, zinc anodes have been inserted into RAAC walls to prevent further deterioration.

Due to our swift response, 88% of our roof planks have ‘end bearing extensions’, 82% have ‘failsafe support’ in place and 96% of our walls have been treated. The completion of these works will ensure that the West Suffolk Hospital site remains a safe building for you, our staff and our visitors until we move into the new hospital by 2030.

In addition to these estates works, we also carried out a rolling programme of continuous monitoring and assessing, including the use of radar equipment and other industry approved tests and increased surveillance on the site until we are ready to move into our new hospital.

All the way through this programme, we have sought advice from experienced structural engineers and experts to support our inspection and maintenance work. We have always followed this expert advice when dealing with this issue.

Therefore, whilst we must acknowledge that our West Suffolk Hospital state is ageing, I would like to reassure you that our building is safe and you should feel confident to continue to attend your appointments, procedures or visiting as normal.

We are making significant progress on our plans to deliver a new healthcare facility on the Hardwick Manor site in Bury St Edmunds. As one of the ‘priority’ Trusts under the Government’s New Hospital Programme, we are working hard with our national colleagues to complete this as soon as possible.

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