2 million patients at risk from crumbling concrete

Our Parliamentary team have been doing some research into the prevalence of RAAC concrete in hospitals. It seems seven hospitals have been named as having the material in their construction, and nearly two million people live within their catchment areas, so could be potentially affected. The hospitals between them employ 43,000 staff who are therefore also at risk. Four of those seven hospitals are classed as ‘mostly composed of RAAC beams’.

However this is by no means the true extent of the problem, as, in total, 23 NHS trusts are affected by RAAC. Data from the  House of Commons Library does not give the names of 11 of those trusts which have more than one hospital, where not all of the hospitals will have a RAAC problem. Nor does it name a further five trusts which are affected.

This is not all new information. Back in March Lib Dems demanded emergency funding to fix hospital roofs in the Budget. They are now calling for an urgent boost to the funding to make hospitals safe and usable.

Ed Davey has said:

It is frankly a national scandal that so many people live in areas with hospital buildings at risk of collapse.

Hard-working doctors and nurses were the heroes of the pandemic, and deserve better than to work in unsafe conditions under roofs at risk of collapse.

This feels like a disaster waiting to happen with the NHS. The government must learn the lessons from their failure on crumbling schools and get these hospitals fixed as soon as possible. There is no time to waste when NHS staff and patient safety is a risk.

Ministers cannot kick the can down the road any longer. The public will never forgive Conservative Ministers if they ignore another warning of public sector buildings falling apart.”

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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  • We have to be careful, remember the coalition cuts.

  • I groaned when I heard cuts by the coalition govt. Another orange book mistake?

  • Steve Trevethan 8th Sep '23 - 4:46pm

    Might it be that, despite the errors of our coalition, our duty to the best we reasonably can for our peoples of now and their children etc.?

    Might we commission some pilot studies so that we really know what we are talking about and be more likely to encourage citizens to support us?

    Might we thus be a party of more practical use and be seen as a realistic and reasonably honest and reliable?

  • The coalition government introduced the triple lock on pensions. The state pension increased by 10.1% in line with inflation last year and is set to rise by 8%+ in line with wage growth this year UK Treasury braced for 8% rise in pensions because of triple lock
    Wage growth is simply a response to high inflation in the economy seeded 18-24 months ago during the Coronavirus pandemic.
    The CPIH index of inflation Consumer price inflation rates which includes mortgage interest is set to ramp up as fixed rate mortgage deals come to an end over the next couple of years. This will principally impact working age mortgage borrowers and renters rather than retired pensioners.
    With state pensions and public service wages rising above the rate of inflation where will the increased taxes to pay these costs come from. Not from working age taxpayers dealing with crippling mortgages and rents. The New Statesman points the way in its article calling for greater taxes on wealth Britain’s great tax con
    Vince Cable explained in 2016 why it was so difficult to get a commitment to capital spending during the coalition years Why Governments Won’t Invest. Had his advice been heeded during the coalition years we would be scrambling for funding to fix schools and hospitals now.

  • Steve Trevethan 9th Sep '23 - 5:03pm

    If our leadership made a commitment to keep the coalition together until the next election, might it/they have given away real power and thus made a strategic error in dealing with a ruthless, predatory and socio-economically well resourced party?

    Did we get a few trees while they got the forest?

    Might it be more achievable and fairer to raise more tax revenue by equalising the proportions of taxes gathered from the not-rich and the rich/very rich, as recommended by Richard Murphy in his blog

    And there are more examples on his blog.

  • Joseph Gerald Bourke 9th Sep '23 - 6:34pm

    The LibDem 2013 Policy Paper Fairer Taxes
    2.3.6 “While Liberal Democrats recognise the merits, in principle, of moving to a single rate of relief, there are significant practical obstacles to such a proposal, which would introduce significant extra complexity to the tax system, particularly in respect of how to apply such a system to defined benefit schemes.
    Liberal Democrats in government have already greatly simplified pensions through the introduction (from 2016) of a flat rate pension, and therefore we support limiting lifetime relief as a more effective way of restricting the pension tax relief given to the wealthiest. ”
    Limiting pension relief to 20% is possible but needs careful development of policy mechanics.

  • Steve Trevethan 10th Sep '23 - 8:07am

    Equalising tax payments, which currently disadvantage the not-wealth/rich, is not limited to tax relief on pensions as the attachment shows.


    Although the general concept of working towards greater equity and clarity creating greater complexity seems, at best, to be a paradox, it appears to be addressable by employing more people at H M R C. As so doing would improve the service and so gather more tax and as those employed would pay taxes, the costs are more than likely to be exceeded by the returns.

    Might an understaffed H M R C benefit those who have most wealth?

  • Steve Trevethan,

    a comprehensive review of the UK tax system was undertaken by the Mirrlees review in 2010 and recommended some radical reforms. The late Sir James Mirrlees was a Nobel prizewinning economist and an expert in tax equity.
    He advised that stamp duty on property transactions should be abolished and replaced with a reformed council tax system. This new Housing Services Tax, based on real property values, would “effectively stand in place of a VAT on housing” while VAT should be levied on financial services business and income tax merged with national insurance.
    The IFS estimated the reforms could grow the economy by 1.4%.
    Richard Murphy seems not to appreciate that the Liberal Democrats are a major political party when he writes in his brief paper “This recommendation would not have been possible if the UK was still in the European Union, but it has left and since no major political party is recommending a return at present changes in VAT exemption rules can now be made by the UK.”
    The EU commission has now undertaken a review of VAT on financial services and published its fair and simple taxation The EU was previously blocked from this reform (charging VAT on financial services) by objections from the UK. The EU can now proceed unhindered. It is likely that the UK financial services industry will need to align with EU regulation if it wants to maintain access to EU markets for this vitally important export industry.

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