ONE in three buildings owned by NHS Forth Valley was found to be containing traces of asbestos, research released on Monday, January 23 has shown.

The report, published by the Scottish Trade Unions Congress (STUC), showed that 24 facilities owned by the health board had some traces of the hazardous materials in them when surveyed in 2022.

The research established that the risk to staff and patients within the buildings was low but wrote that in some instances, it was still found in publicly accessible areas.

Roz Foyer, general secretary at the STUC, said the findings were concerning and warned people were at risk unless the materials were removed.

She said: “This is a stark report which underlines the grave concerns we have about the extent of asbestos in public buildings in Scotland.

“Death and illness from asbestos-related conditions is not just a legacy from the past, it is in the here and now for thousands of people in Scotland.

“We need an urgent plan for stepping up asbestos removal. Patients across Scotland cannot afford to wait any longer.”

These findings are the latest blow for NHS Forth Valley, which was recently placed under government control following performance concerns.

The health board has come under criticism recently for A&E waiting times and overcrowding, with the Scottish Government assuming direct oversight in November 2022.

CONCERNS: The report shows a number of buildings owned or run by NHS Forth Valley has asbestos

CONCERNS: The report shows a number of buildings owned or run by NHS Forth Valley has asbestos

A spokesperson for NHS Forth Valley said: “Many older buildings contain asbestos, however, this is not a potential health risk unless it is disturbed or exposed.

“NHS Forth Valley follows national guidance and best practice in relation to the management and monitoring of buildings which contain asbestos to minimise any potential risks.

“All asbestos containing materials are maintained in safe encapsulated/sealed conditions and the majority are in restricted or inaccessible locations.

“Any areas containing asbestos are inspected on an annual basis by an external accredited contractor.

“If any building refurbishment or demolition work is planned which could expose asbestos containing materials then appropriate safety measures would be put in place to minimise any potential risks and, wherever possible, these materials would be removed by a licensed contractor.”

The buildings most likely to be affected are older medical centres and community hospital buildings opened pre-2000 as asbestos was banned in 1999.

The modern Forth Valley Hospital building was opened in 2010 and is unlikely to have been included.

The full report showed that asbestos was found in at least 695 NHS premises across Scotland, with Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Dumfries and Galloway having traces in 100 per cent of their buildings.