THOUSANDS of NHS staff and patients are at risk as more hospitals are at risk of crumbling concrete.
According to research, around 43,000 staff work in seven hospitals already known to use reinforced aerated concrete (RAAC).
The locations have a catchment area of up to 1.9 million patients.
And NHS bosses yesterday told MPs that more hospitals may have found the dangerous material after the health service issued a letter to inspect their buildings earlier this week.
Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said: “It is frankly a national scandal that so many people live in areas where hospital buildings are at risk of collapse.”
“Hard-working doctors and nurses have been the heroes of the pandemic and deserve better than working in unsafe conditions under collapsing roofs.
“This feels like a disaster waiting to happen to the NHS. There is no time to waste when the safety of NHS staff and patients is at risk.”
RAAC is a type of cheap lightweight concrete used in British construction from the 1960s to the 1990s.
It has a shelf life of 30 years and is the reason for the current school crisis, where hundreds of buildings have been found to be at risk of collapse.
The Lib Dem analysis examined seven hospital trusts affected by the material.
University Hospital Southampton had the largest number of patients in its catchment area, with 468,295 residents.
This was followed by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals with 316,122 and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn with 249,000.
In total, the NHS is aware of 41 buildings that have RAAC, including seven that will need to be completely demolished before 2030.
However, NHS England chief financial officer Julian Kelly admitted it could be many more.
Speaking before Parliament’s public accounts committee, he said dozens of other hospitals had discovered the material may be in their buildings.
Mr Kelly said: “We have recently contacted all NHS trusts and asked people to reconfirm whether they are sure they do not have RAAC or whether this is the case.”
“There are a number of trusts that have come forward and said they believe they may have RAAC.”
He confirmed that the exact number was “more in the tens than the hundreds” and would be confirmed in the coming weeks.
All buildings with RAAC would be eliminated by 2035, he said.
Miriam Deakin, from NHS Providers, said: “Trust leaders have repeatedly warned that RAAC poses major risks to the safety of patients, staff and services.
“Investment is being delivered now under the New Hospital Program, with the seven most affected RAAC trusts set to be replaced by 2030.”
“It is worrying for patients and staff that those with remaining RAAC may have to wait another 12 years for this unsafe concrete to be removed from their buildings.”