A ROOF in a Southampton hospital is made of concrete that is at risk of collapse, an FOI response reveals.

A small amount of the lightweight concrete is in Southampton General Hospital, the trust operating the site has confirmed.

Weaker than traditional concrete, it has been likened to a "chocolate Aero bar" with bubbles that put sites at risk of crumbling.

Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) has a surface that is slightly crumbly when touched unless it has been heavily painted or coated, a 2021 government guide said.

It was often used in the roofs of hospitals and schools in the mid-1960s to the mid-80s. 

One of the worst affected hospitals in England is the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, which has 1,528 steel and timber support props across 56 areas to stop it collapsing.

The Norfolk hospital may have to close by 2030, with chief executive Caroline Shaw likening RAAC to Aero.

Replying to a Freedom of Information request made by the Echo, University Hospital Southampton NHS Trust (UHSFT) said there is a small amount of the material in a "non-patient facing area".

The trust said it was located within the laboratory and pathology block.

It is "visually inspected on a quarterly basis, with external consultants fully inspecting the planks annually," a spokeswoman said.

Steel poles are not being used to prop up the RAAC roof, the trust said.

The block is one of 34 NHS buildings in England with RAAC planks.

The FOI was made to the trust after health minister Maria Caulfield revealed the number of buildings with RAAC in a written answer to MP Daisy Cooper.

The minister said NHS surveys found 34 buildings in 16 different trusts contained the concrete, and all of the trusts employ structural surveyors to assess the structure.

"A ring-fenced allocation of £110 million has been provided to mitigate the immediate risk and trusts will receive a further £575 million in the current Spending Review period," she added.

But she didn't say which trusts these were or how many of the sites were where patients are treated.

In February 2021, the Department for Education published a guide for schools and other buildings to help identify RAAC.

The guide recommends that if you suspect a roof may have been built of RAAC planks, or if you are unsure, you should arrange an inspection or assessment, which is the building owner's responsibility.

If RAAC planks are discovered, remedial work may be required, and a structural engineer may be able to advise on the risks and cost of necessary work.

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