Hospitals and health centres which serve patients from West Dunbartonshire.

By Bill Heaney

Read this and weep. All the main hospitals and health centres serving West Dunbartonshire have been found to be contaminated with crumbling concrete.

And readers of The Democrat are still waiting to hear from curmudgeonly West Dunbartonshire Council as to how many schools, local authority and health board offices are similarly affected.

The Council appears to be sticking with its ill-conceived policy of banning its communications staff from speaking to our popular digital news platform.

The scandal of the cheapskate construction material reared its ugly head at First Minister’s Questions in the Scottish Parliament today.

The politically lightweight SNP Deputy First Minister Shona Robison, whose term as Health Secretary in the SNP government was an unmitigated disaster, fielded the questions, but her answers were far from re-assuring or inspiring.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, pictured above,  challenged the Deputy First Minister over the safety of patients at a series of NHS buildings suspected of containing reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) after a school beam previously thought to be low risk was found to be unsound.

The Scottish Government have confirmed that 254 NHS buildings are suspected of containing the dangerous concrete.

As of 21 July, health boards were investigating the following numbers of buildings: Grampian (52 including 14 at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary), Greater Glasgow & Clyde (44), Lothian (35), Tayside (29 including 11 at Ninewells hospital), Highland (25), Fife (22), Lanarkshire (18), Ayrshire & Arran (10), Forth Valley (8), Borders (7) and Dumfries & Galloway (3).

The full list of NHS buildings suspected of having RAAC can be found here.

The buildings under investigation include surgical wards at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, all three local health centres at Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Clydebank and the £800 million relatively new Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and Royal Children’s Hospital, Gartnavel Hospital and Inverclyde Royal Hospital, all of which serve West Dunbartonshire.

Some ante-natal and maternity wards and a radiotherapy ward are being looked at closely.

Alex Cole-Hamilton said:  “The list of NHS buildings being searched for the dangerous concrete RAAC includes surgical wards, a radiotherapy ward, maternity wards and major hospitals including Ninewells in the Deputy First Minister’s home city.

“There, the area of concern extends to nine and a half thousand square metres – that’s more than the size of a football pitch.

“Assumptions about what is low risk, based on looking at blueprints, are now being questioned because a school beam thought to be low risk was then found to be unsound.

“So, can the Deputy First Minister vouch for the safety of everyone going for surgery, every cancer patient and every newborn currently receiving care in a ward where this concrete is suspected to be present?”

Ms Robison replied, not very convincingly, that would be safe in the hospitals which had not been affected by crumbling concrete.

The list of NHS buildings suspected of having RAAC can be found here.

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