Mid Wales

Welsh government's Bronglais Hospital asbestos review

Bronglais Hospital
Image caption Hywel Dda Health Board has said the asbestos has not entered public areas

A Welsh government review into the management of asbestos at Bronglais Hospital in Aberystwyth has been launched.

It follows a revelation in August that up to 30 of its maintenance staff could have been exposed to asbestos.

The chief executive of NHS Wales, David Sissling, has commissioned an independent review so lessons can be learned.

Hywel Dda Health Board said it would fully co-operate.

The health board said in August that the asbestos had not entered public areas, and patients and visitors were safe.

The Health and Safety Executive is also conducting an inquiry into the incident, while the health board is holding an internal investigation.

The problem at Bronglais Hospital occurred between 2004 and 2009, before the health board's formation.

Mr Sissling said: "I felt that it was important to instigate this review to see if there are lessons that can be learnt in the handling of asbestos, both specifically for Bronglais Hospital and also more broadly for the NHS in Wales.

"Once we have the findings and recommendations, I will consider what further action will be required if any."

The review will be conducted by Clive Grace, former director general of Audit Commission Wales and chief executive of Torfaen council.

A report, along with recommendations, will be submitted to Mr Sissling by 30 January next year.

A Hywel Dda Health Board spokeswoman said: "We will fully co-operate with this review as we have done with the Health and Safety Executive since this matter came to light.

Criminal liabilities

"Significant work has already been undertaken to ensure asbestos is effectively managed across all our premises."

The health board is unlikely to face prosecution over the asbestos issue at Bronglais Hospital.

The Health and Safety Executive said in August a failure to transfer criminal liabilities after NHS reforms in 2009 reduced the chance of success in court.

Asbestos is a problem when fibres become airborne and are inhaled, and can lead to life-threatening illness.

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