WORK to ensure Withybush Hospital’s roof is safe is due to begin.

Hywel Dda University Health Board put plans in place earlier this month to ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum while survey work is carried out on concrete roof planks in wards at the Withybush Hospital site in Haverfordwest.

All health boards and trusts in Wales were asked to determine whether reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) planks are present on their buildings in roofs, walls or floors and they have to report back to the Welsh Government with the findings and management plan.

This comes as the Welsh Government raised concern about the safety of the materials that were used in the construction of NHS hospitals between 1960 and 1995.

The process had identified the presence of a large number of the planks in the roof of the hospital according to the health board’s director of operations, Andrew Carruthers.

He said: “Further investigations in January 2022 and emerging guidance showed that the scale of the presence of RAAC planks in Withybush Hospital required an in-depth programme of investigations to determine the condition of the concrete planks and to provide the ongoing assurance around the safety of these planks.

“Previous reviews have identified that there are no current health and safety concerns. but the survey at Withybush Hospital is taking place to ascertain any future works that may be required.”

The surveys will be done on a ward-by-ward and plank-by-plank basis and is expected to take around nine months to complete, but plans are in place to keep what is expected to be considerable disruption to a minimum.

One of the plans is to move some hospital patients and staff to Cleddau Ward at South Pembrokeshire Hospital in Pembroke Dock.

Mr Carruthers continued: “The situation is not unique to Withybush with other hospitals across the UK facing similar challenges. The building is structurally sound but may require repair work if defective RAAC planks are found.

“It is too early to assess how much remedial work will be needed. The estates team are working with clinical and nursing managers to minimise disruption to staff and patients.

"We will have a better idea of the scope of the repairs once the survey work has been completed.”

Bronglais Hospital in Aberystwyth also has a small area which is affected by the RAAC issue and a separate survey and plan will be implemented there in the near future.