Sunderland hospital buildings on asbestos risk register

Sunderland Royal Hospital Accident and Emergency Department (A&E)
Sunderland Royal Hospital Accident and Emergency Department (A&E)
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ASBESTOS is present in 28 hospital buildings across Sunderland.

Twenty eight buildings are currently on the city’s Asbestos Risk Register including theatre blocks and children’s centres.

But bosses at Sunderland Royal Hospital say the material presents no danger to patients and is properly managed.

Information obtained by the Echo reveals Sunderland Royal Hospital’s main building contains asbestos, along with the city’s Eye Infirmary, the Niall Quinn Centre, the Genitourinary Medicine centre, the former neonatal unit and a number of others.

Since January 2011, City Hospitals Sunderland has spent £153,667 on the maintenance and removal of asbestos from its buildings.

A spokesman for the Trust said: “Asbestos was widely used in building and engineering up to the late 1980s and like other healthcare premises, it was installed in City Hospitals Sunderland’s properties constructed prior to this time.

“The trust has always placed a high priority on the health and safety of its staff, its contractors, its patients and other members of the public.

“It recognises its duties and legal responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and has developed comprehensive procedures to manage the asbestos present in its buildings.

“It has a dynamic asbestos management plan which sets out the trust strategy for compliance with all relevant health and safety legislation regarding asbestos management.”

Many of the hospital buildings were erected during the peak of asbestos use in the industry. These buildings often contained large amounts of amosite, commonly referred to as “brown” asbestos and sometimes “gray” asbestos - one of the more hazardous forms of the material. As long as it is properly managed, the material presents no danger.

Last month, the Echo revealed how 65 per cent of schools in the city contained the potentially deadly material. If the asbestos is damaged or disturbed then fibres can be released and breathed in. A large amount of exposure can cause mesothelioma.

Asbestos campaigners have called for a national strategy to address the issue of the material still present in buildings which have often passed their original life expectancy.