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Asbestos in the NHS

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Asbestos is still a widespread issue among NHS trusts and boards, according to a report by the Trades Union Congress (TUC). The report highlights the presence of asbestos, management, duty holding, and public access as critical areas that require attention.

Presence of Asbestos

The report found that asbestos is still present in a significant number of NHS trusts and boards. Out of the 58 NHS trusts and health boards surveyed, there were 48 usable responses in the survey, and these represented 1718 premises and buildings in total. 1146 of those buildings contained asbestos, which is two-thirds of the overall number posing a potential risk to both staff and patients if not monitored and managed correctly.

Management

Effective management of asbestos is crucial to ensure that risks are minimized, and staff, patients, and visitors are protected. The report found that there were significant variations in the management of asbestos among the NHS trusts and boards surveyed. While some had effective asbestos management plans in place, others lacked essential procedures and knowledge – essential for the safe maintenance of buildings containing ACMs in their construction.

Duty Holding

The report highlighted the importance of duty holding in managing asbestos. Duty holders are responsible for ensuring that risks from asbestos are adequately managed and that staff, patients, and visitors are protected. The report found that some NHS trusts and boards were failing in their duty to manage asbestos effectively. In some cases, this was due to a lack of resources, while in others, it was due to a lack of awareness or understanding of the risks.

Public Access

The report also highlighted the importance of public access to information on asbestos management. Members of the public, patients, and visitors have a right to know about the presence of asbestos in NHS facilities and the steps being taken to manage it. The report found that many NHS trusts and boards were failing to provide adequate information to the public. This could lead to unnecessary anxiety and concerns among staff, patients, and visitors.

The TUC report highlights the continuing problem of asbestos in NHS facilities, having only surveyed a small number of NHS trusts and health boards, it’s safe to assume that it is a wider spread problem. While some NHS trusts and boards are managing asbestos effectively, others are failing in their duty to protect staff, patients, and visitors. It is crucial that all NHS trusts and boards take action to manage asbestos effectively, including developing comprehensive asbestos management plans, ensuring duty holders are aware of their responsibilities, and providing adequate information to the public.

You can read the full report here: https://www.tuc.org.uk/research-analysis/reports/asbestos-still-widespread-among-nhs-trusts-and-boards

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