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Hospital campaigners dispute claims that HRI is crumbling.

Byline: NICK LAVIGUEUR nick@examiner.co.uk @grecian9

HUDDERSFIELD Royal Infirmary (HRI) does not have concrete cancer and could last another 60 years, an independent surveyor has claimed.

Hands Off HRI (HoHRI) has revealed it is challenging hospital chiefs' claims that the 52-year-old premises were on the verge of falling down.

Last year, a report submitted by HRI bosses said the Infirmary's walls and floors were crumbling away because of water seeping in, causing 'concrete cancer.' The report claimed PS95m of repairs were needed and it would have to be demolished in 10 years as even if they were done it would not meet NHS standards.

It warned the Infirmary could even collapse if any more holes were drilled in its floors.

Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (CHFT) used the structural report as a key part of its bid to mothball the site and move services to Halifax.

Its finance chiefs said it would cost PS380m to knock the infirmary down and build a new hospital in Huddersfield - PS83m more than the proposed plan to extend Calderdale Royal and Acre Mills.

HoHRI has now revealed it commissioned a specialist surveyor and civil engineer to examine the structure and sustainability of the hospital.

Their findings are at odds with the NHS-commissioned report.

The surveyor has concluded that: | The buildings are well-built and are in good condition, with a likely life expectancy of at least 60 years if well maintained.

| The concrete structure is generally in good condition with no evidence of 'concrete cancer' or serious structural problems.

| 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 re-roofed, most roofs are now in good condition and remaining problem areas due to be repaired soon.

| There is corroding pipework, some of which is difficult to access, but it is being repaired.

The surveyor's report says that "there are no grounds for concern about the strength of the structure" and that while there are difficulties in refurbishing the existing wards to modern requirements, these can be solved.

"Refurbishment is practical and feasible," they conclude.

HoHRI said the report raised "very serious concerns" about CHFT's claim that HRI cannot be safely or affordably maintained - in particular, the suggestion that the hospital had 'concrete cancer.' They said it called into question a key assumption in the plan - CHFT's assertion that the Infirmary had to be rebuilt within 10 years - which it said was unaffordable.

A spokesperson said: "If, as it now seems, HRI does not need to be rebuilt in 10 years' time then the financial case for demolishing it is fatally flawed.

"To keep HRI open and fully functioning, it would not be necessary to spend the PS379.5m rebuild cost at all. Maintenance and updating of HRI is needed, but the total costs would still be over PS200m less than the PS297m cost of the trust's preferred HRI closure scheme.

"It wouldn't be necessary to get rid of 105 beds either.

"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."

The trust's executive director of planning, estates and facilities, Lesley Hill, said: "We haven't seen the report prepared by Hands Off HRI's surveyor and would welcome the opportunity to do so.

"The trust's own detailed reports, which have been shared with Hands Off HRI, clearly identified wide ranging, extensive, long-term structural issues, which, to redress, would come at significant cost over many years and would still not enable the trust to address the clinical quality and safety challenges it faces.

"The proposals - if approved - would ensure we have two new modern healthcare settings to provide a full range of clinically safe, quality services for our populations."
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Mar 12, 2018
Words:715
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