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Safety survey to begin on wards at Withybush Hospital

05 May 2023

Plans have been put in place at Withybush Hospital to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum as further survey work begins on concrete roof planks in wards at the hospital site in Haverfordwest.

The work follows concerns raised by Welsh Government (WG) about the safety of materials used in the construction of NHS hospitals between 1960 and 1995.

All health boards and trusts in Wales, including the Hywel Dda University Health Board (HDdUHB) were asked to determine whether reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) planks are present on buildings in roofs, walls or floors and to report back to Welsh Government (WG) with the findings and a management plan.

HDdUHB’s Director of Operations, Andrew Carruthers, said that this process had identified the presence of a large number of RAAC planks in the roof of Withybush Hospital.

“Further investigations in January 2022 and emerging guidance showed that the scale of the presence of RAAC planks in Withybush Hospital required an in-depth programme of investigations to determine the condition of the concrete planks and to provide the ongoing assurance around the safety of these planks,” said Mr Carruthers.

“Previous reviews have identified that there are no current health and safety concerns but the survey at Withybush Hospital is taking place to ascertain any future works that may be required.”

The surveys at Withybush Hospital will be completed on a ward-by-ward, plank-by-blank basis. It is expected that this work will cause considerable disruption and take around nine months to complete.

In order to complete the work, which will begin in the middle of May, some hospital patients and staff will move to Cleddau Ward at South Pembrokeshire Hospital in Pembroke Dock.

Mr Carruthers said that staff, patients and the public can be assured that the situation is being closely monitored and there are no immediate safety concerns.

“The situation is not unique to Withybush with other hospitals across the UK facing similar challenges. The building is structurally sound but may require repair work if defective RAAC planks are found.

“It is too early to assess how much remedial work will be needed. The Estates team are working with clinical and nursing managers to minimise disruption to staff and patients. We will have a better idea of the scope of the repairs once the survey work has been completed.”

This work is to take place alongside the current Fire Safety works programme which also presents challenges in enabling space availability for works to be undertaken.

“Both the RAAC planks survey and fire safety works reflect ongoing commitment to keeping Withybush Hospital viable for the future,” said Mr Carruthers.

As for other HDdUHB sites, there is a small area at Bronglais Hospital which is affected by the RAAC issue. The planks at Bronglais Hospital are located in one plant room and a separate survey and management plan will be implemented at this site in the near future.