HOSPITAL staff, contractors and patients could be at risk from asbestos, it has been revealed.

Members of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) heard that lack of money is increasing the risk.

Last year a nine-year project to remove asbestos from Glan Clwyd Hospital, in Bodelwyddan, was completed after years of disruption, but the danger still exists in other premises.

In a report on the board’s corporate risk register Mathew Jones, associate director of patient experience and interim associate director of quality assurance, says: “There is a significant risk that BCUHB is non-compliant with the Asbestos at Work Regulations 2012.

“This is due to the evidence that not all surveys have been completed and re-surveys are a copy of previous years’ surveys.

“There are actions outstanding in some areas from surveys (and) this may lead to the risk of contractors, staff and others being exposed to asbestos, resulting in death, from mesothelioma or long-term health conditions, claims, HSE enforcement action including fines, prosecution and reputation damage to BCUHB.”

Up to 15 premises need to be checked to see whether the original surveys remain valid, but Mr Jones adds: “This is problematic as finances are not available for this work, increasing the risk of exposure to staff and contractors.”

The board was also told of a “significant risk” of non-compliance with legislation over the control of Legionella disease, which is transmitted through water systems.

“This is due to “a lack of formal processes and systems to minimise the risk to staff, patients, visitors and the general public”.

“This may ultimately lead to death (and) ill-health conditions in those who are particularly susceptible to such risks, and a breach of relevant Health and Safety legislation,” says the report.

The board had intended to launch an updated risk management strategy last month but it was postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak, and it is now expected in October.

The current pandemic has led to two specific risks being added to the register – the risk of the outbreak escalating to a point when the health service would struggle to mitigate and cope with it, and also the risk to staff and patients as a result of inadequate supply and quality of protective equipment (PPE).