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January 30, 2023

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Two thirds of hospitals contain asbestos – report finds

Two thirds of NHS hospitals in London and Scotland contain asbestos, as well as many health centres, blood donor clinics and GP surgeries, a report has found.

Despite the material being banned for health reasons 23 years ago, the study found asbestos still present in at least 451 NHS premises in London – more than half of those surveyed – and 695 premises in Scotland.

A further 1,109 buildings in London and Scotland where the Trust or Board is not the duty holder were also found to have asbestos – there the responsibility for asbestos management lies with other owners or tenants/leaseholders – including NHS Property Services.

HospitalThe results of the study by the Labour Research Department (LRD) for the Trades Union Congress’ (TUC) and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health has sparked concern for both workers and patients.

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said: “Asbestos exposure continues to cause thousands of deaths every year.

“Yet asbestos is still with us in workplaces and public buildings across the country. As a result, decades after the use of asbestos was banned, hundreds of thousands of workers, patients and members of the public are still put at risk of exposure every day.

“The only way to protect today’s workers and future generations is through the safe removal of asbestos from all workplaces and public buildings. We need the national government to work with local authorities on a plan to remove it from every last building.”

According to the Health and Safety Executive asbestos is still the biggest workplace killer and Britain has the highest rates of mesothelioma cases in the world.

The TUC is calling for new legislation requiring the removal of all asbestos from public buildings – rather than the current policy of managing it.

The union body wants asbestos removal to form part of a clearly timetabled large-scale retrofit programme of all public buildings.

They believe this is the only way to eradicate asbestos cancer and ensure future generations will not experience the same asbestos-related diseases as current generations.

Ian Lavery MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Asbestos, said: “These shocking figures expose the extent of risk to dangerous carcinogenic exposure in the very places designed to nurture our health.

“Thousands of people are dying every year of asbestos-related illness, with thousands more being diagnosed. If asbestos is in a building, it will at some point become dangerous if it’s disturbed, so we need plans in place for its removal from all public buildings.”


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Jonathan Davies
Jonathan Davies
1 year ago

This is not surprising but why remove asbestos if it is in good condition and being managed appropriately? It doesn’t present a risk if undisturbed so safe removal is not the only way to protect workers.

Ged Dermody
Ged Dermody
1 year ago

I agree to an extent, but managing asbestos is not the same as safe removal and disposal.
The amount of asbestos within the public and private estate of the UK is frightening. It was the most widely use and adaptable product for years , and I don’t believe we know the true extent of the problem- even now.