Geospatial system helps hospital manage RAAC risk

Airedale General Hospital near Keighley is using a new geospatial system to help manage its RAAC (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete) monitoring and repairs programme.

Using GIS (Geographic Information System) software from Esri UK, the system replaces paper-based processes with digital workflows to improve the accuracy and efficiency of RAAC inspections. It reveals where the highest risk areas are in real time, which informs the mitigation works – including temporary propping, steel reinforcements, and fixing roof leaks.

Esri says the solution has introduced 50% efficiency savings in the RAAC surveying process, which involves eight staff inspecting 20,000 RAAC planks across 52 departments. The 1960s-built hospital has one of the NHS’s highest quantities of RAAC panels, with 83% of its floors, walls, and ceilings, made of the material. Staff discovered the issue five years ago. The hospital is due to be rebuilt by 2030 under the New Hospital Programme.

RAAC inspection previously relied on hand-written surveys to record defects, including cracks, movement, or moisture, which were then transferred into Excel. Photos were uploaded manually, and separate paper floorplans updated to show the changes to risk across each ward.

Richard Burgin, Estates Project manager, explained: “The existing manual survey process could not deal with the sheer volume of work. It became obvious the hospital needed a single, joined-up view of RAAC risk to generate the inspection frequencies and the ongoing remediation works programme. The Esri GIS has given us a more robust, resilient process, with less risk of human error, that instantly shows different levels of risk so we know where to focus. RAAC has a major operational impact, sometimes disturbing clinical and operational functions, so surveys and mitigation work need to be accurate and fast, and the system underpins that.”

Inspection data is now collected on iPads using custom forms, which helps dictate the risk rating of each plank. Planks are surveyed monthly, three-monthly, six-monthly or yearly, depending on their rating. Dramatically reducing the time needed to record, analyse, and report on defect data, the surveying process has become 50% more efficient. The output helps instruct the survey team which wards they need to survey, and which planks are due for inspection.

Improved insights are now generated faster, as the GIS can run different spatial analysis and scenarios, including tracking monthly changes in residual risk, and providing detailed information on each specific concrete plank. Deterioration patterns can be clearly seen and investigated on an estate map, overlaid with drone imagery. Factors which impact on RAAC, such as the location of utilities and services, the orientation of a building, and prevailing weather, can all be better assessed.


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