Redeveloping Frimley Park Hospital is not a “viable option”, and potential sites have already been identified to deliver a new hospital by 2030.
Frimley Park needs to be replaced because it was built in the 1970s using crumble-prone Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC), which makes up around 65 per cent of the current hospital.
For that reason, Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust (FHFT) has been granted funding for a new “state-of-the-art” replacement for the hospital through the government’s New Hospital Programme.
The Department of Health and Social Care requires the NHS to stop using hospital buildings built with RAAC by 2035, the same material found in 214 schools and caused some buildings to close. But 2030 is the deadline for the seven most affected hospitals, which includes Frimley Park.
But a county council health committee heard on Tuesday a redevelopment of the existing site would be “impossible” to achieve before the 2030 cut-off – meaning the trust is actively looking at alternative locations for a replacement for Frimley Park Hospital.
The current Frimley Park Hospital has around 7,000 Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) planks in key areas such as operating theatres, intensive care units, wards, and corridors.
These are constantly monitored, and safety works are undertaken to ensure a safe environment.
The trust which runs the hospital has considered whether attempting to build a new hospital on the current site is a viable option.
However, a report presented to Hampshire County Council’s Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee on Tuesday said the redevelopment would require demolition and rebuild on a site which is “already congested”, causing “significant disruption to patients, staff, and hospital services, as well as being more expensive” and “impossible to complete a phased build by our deadline of 2030”.
As a result, the trust is actively looking at alternative locations for a replacement for Frimley Park Hospital.
Trust criteria shows the new site should have a space of 130,000m2, which is twice the size of the current hospital. The area should be expandable and easily accessible by public transport and road. It also should have the necessary power and utilities provided by 2030.
To outline criteria that will be used to evaluate potential sites shortlisted and ensure everyone has a say, the trust will ask for the public’s input on the criteria until January 2024. The “preferred site” must be chosen by February 2024 so the new hospital can open its doors by 2030, it said.
Virtual and in-person listening events will be held for the public and communities will be offered hosting events to provide relevant and accessible information, and an online questionnaire will also be available.
The trust is also seeking the advice of the council’s Health and Adult Social Care Committee, alongside other relevant overview and scrutiny committees, to help refine and develop the evaluation criteria against which viable sites can be judged.
The new hospital will be designed to enhance the quality of patient care by implementing various measures.
These measures include increasing the number of single rooms, locating all planned surgeries in one area, and ensuring that related clinical services, such as vascular, cardiology, and stroke services, are positioned next to each other.
The hospital will also aim to improve its digital infrastructure and operate unplanned emergency and planned services on the same site but separately.
It is estimated that by February 2025, plans to purchase the new site for the replacement of Frimley Park Hospital will get final approval, including full local authority planning approval.
Later that year, in summer, construction work will start and finish by spring 2029. It should then open in summer 2029.