Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) and the New Hospital Programme
July 2020 – Michael visited Frimley Park Hospital and had a meeting with the Chief Executive, Neil Dardis, who raised the issue of the Hospital’s need for substantial infrastructural improvements to its buildings, many of which were built in the 1970s.
September 2020 – Following further correspondence, Michael wrote to the Health Secretary to explain the serious issues the Hospital is facing with its infrastructure, and asked if it can receive the emergency funding it needs through the Government’s Health Infrastructure Plan.
February 2021 – Michael received a response from the Health Secretary, and a copy of the reply is attached below.
November 2021 – Michael held a further meeting with Mr Dardis who explained that Frimley Park Hospital was built using Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC), and such buildings now require extensive work to keep them safe and in use. Hospitals have to eliminate any RAAC from buildings by 2035, and around 65% of Frimley Park Hospital’s buildings contain damaged RAAC. The Hospital submitted an Expression of Interest to the Department of Health and Social Care’s New Hospital Programme, requesting £1.26 billion of funding for a new Frimley Park Hospital.
January 2022 – Following additional information from Mr Dardis, Michael wrote to the Department for Health and Social Care in support of the Hospital’s Expression of Interest.
February 2022 – The Health Secretary responded regarding the support for Frimley Park Hospital. A copy of the reply is attached below.
July 2022 – Michael had a virtual meeting with Mr Dardis who explained that following external quantity surveying assessments, a report was to be submitted to the Department for Health and Social Care to suggest that it was likely the elimination of RAAC works would in fact have to be completed by 2030. In light of this new information, and given the Hospital was still awaiting an outcome for its bid to join the New Hospital Programme, Michael wrote once more to the Health Secretary to reinforce the need for this funding as soon as possible.
October 2022 – Michael wrote again to the Health Secretary to ask for an update following his correspondence from July.
November 2022 – Michael had a further catch-up with Mr Dardis to discuss the redevelopment of the Hospital.
January 2023 – Michael had a virtual meeting with Mr Dardis to discuss what further action would be taken to secure these longstanding and much-needed infrastructural changes. Having written once more to the Health Secretary, Michael received the below response from Lord Markham CBE, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Health & Social Care. Whilst the response disappointingly offered little certainty as to when he will receive concrete news, Michael will soon be holding one of his frequent catch-ups with Mr Dardis where he will discuss what further action will be being taken to secure these long-standing and much needed infrastructure changes. Michael will be sure to share any news on his social media and provide updates here.
February 2023 – Michael responded to Lord Markham’s reply from January 2023 with further information regarding the need for a brand new Frimley Park Hospital, expressing his wholehearted backing for the Trust’s bid to the New Hospital Programme.
March 2023 – Michael contacted neighbouring MPs, James Sunderland and Leo Docherty, regarding a joint letter to the Health Secretary to once more voice their total support for the Trust’s bid. You can read the letter below, and Michael will share the Health Secretary’s response when it is received.
A&E waiting times
In July 2022, Michael had a catch-up with the Chief Executive of Frimley Park Hospital, Neil Dardis, and discussed the issue of A&E services at Frimley Park. Mr Dardis explained that there has been a significant recent surge in demand, and this combined with staff sickness had led to a great deal of pressure on the Hospital’s A&E Department.
More broadly, NHS England and Improvement announced steps to help the NHS prepare for Winter 2022/23, by increasing hospital bed space and increasing the number of NHS 111 and 999 call handlers. In particular, NHS will increase the number of general and acute beds by 7,000, which will include new hospital beds and virtual wards where patients will be treated at home with NHS equipment or assistance.
The Government also committed to urgent action to free up beds and reduce long waits in accident and emergency through the £500 million Adult Social Care Discharge Fund. An additional £200 million has been allocated to help the NHS buy up beds in the community, so that thousands of patients can be safely discharged from hospital. This will help free up hospital beds so that people can be admitted more quickly from accident and emergency to wards, reducing pressure on emergency departments.
The Government has published its Urgent and Emergency Care Plan alongside an investment of £1 billion to deliver 5,000 more hospital beds compared with the numbers originally planned for 2022-23, and to put over 800 more ambulances on the road. This will speed up discharge from hospitals, free up beds for patients needing urgent and emergency care and, ultimately, reduce pressures on hospitals.