HRI, if maintained, likely to be safe and serviceable ‘for many years to come’    

The Campaign Group, Hands Off HRI, has now received a draft Report from a specialist surveyor and civil engineer commissioned to examine critical aspects of the fabric and sustainability of the hospital.  The Report was necessary in order to test the Hospital Trust’s claims that HRI could not be used beyond 10 years due to ‘concrete cancer’ and the impracticability of carrying out future maintenance and improvements.  The draft Report’s findings include:

  • the buildings structures generally appeared to have been well-built and are in good condition, with a likely life expectancy of at least 60 years if well maintained;
  • the building maintenance requirements appear to be typical for buildings of this size and age;
  • most areas with reported roof problems have now been repaired or reroofed, most roofs are now in good condition and remaining problem areas due to be repaired soon;
  • the concrete structure is generally in good condition with no evidence of ‘concrete cancer’ or serious structural problems;
  • there is corroding pipework, some of which is difficult to access, but it is being repaired;

In the opinion of the surveyor:

  • ‘there are no grounds for concern about the strength of the structure’;
  • ‘the buildings are in good condition and provided they are adequately maintained they are likely to remain safe and serviceable for many years to come’;
  • and ‘although there are some difficulties in refurbishing the existing wards to modern requirements, these can be solved and therefore refurbishment is practical and feasible’

The surveyor found that maintenance needs are not excessive for this type and age of building and he considered that the existing buildings are in good condition and should have a life expectancy of at least 60 years if well maintained. Although there are some difficulties in refurbishing the existing wards to modern requirements, in the surveyor’s opinion these can be solved, and therefore refurbishment is practical and feasible.

No similar report is available for Calderdale Royal Hospital so no comparison can be made on its conditions or difficulties and costs for reconfiguration of existing buildings. But it is public knowledge that the cost for maintenance and structural repairs is much higher in PFI buildings than wholly owned public buildings.

The findings of the draft survey Report now raise very serious concerns about the Trust’s central claim that HRI cannot be safely or affordably maintained.  In particular, the suggestion that the hospital has ‘concrete cancer’ – widely reported at the time – is not supported. While the claim that new services can’t be installed is clearly misinformed.

This new report calls into question a key assumption behind the Trust’s full business case. If, as it now seems,  HRI does not need to be rebuilt in 10 years time then the financial case is fatally flawed. To keep HRI open and fully functioning, it would not be necessary to spend the £379.5m rebuild cost at all. Maintenance and updating of HRI is needed, but the total costs would still be over £200m less than the £297m cost of the Trust’s preferred HRI closure scheme. It wouldn’t be necessary to get rid of 105 beds either.

A spokesperson for Hands Off HRI commented: ” For the last 10 months the local community was left with the impression that our hospital building was falling down.  Now it has been confirmed that it is structurally sound.  The Trust should hang their heads in shame.  They have either been misled or have misrepresented the truth in order to justify an unwarranted and costly closure.  We are demanding that the whole discredited plan is thrown into the dustbin and that a  new board looks properly and honestly at the entire health needs of our area without being ruled by accountants and profiteering companies.  We hope our politicians can get answers and quickly.”