The alarm has been raised over potentially deadly asbestos at several north London hospitals and NHS buildings.

Research for the Trades Union Congress (TUC) found that at least 451 NHS sites in London contain asbestos, 23 years since its use was banned in new buildings.

The TUC says the extent of asbestos presence in the research sample raises concern for the wellbeing of workers and members of the public using these premises.

But one health trust warned that the report could lead to “unnecessary alarm” as it does not mention the “strict regulations” governing the substance.

According to the union, two thirds of premises surveyed with asbestos are open to access by the public.

Which NHS trusts still have asbestos?

Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust

The NHS trust uses 69 buildings, but the report found that asbestos was present in 44 of them – and 16 of these sites were accessible to the public.

Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust

According to the report, the trust owns 35 buildings and asbestos was present in 34 of them. A total of 22 of the sites are accessible to the public.

On behalf of both the two trusts listed above, a spokesperson said: “We have an ongoing programme of work across both Barnet Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust and Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust to remove asbestos from our buildings, with many being replaced as part of ongoing redevelopment plans across our estate.

“Where asbestos remains, it is within the legally safe levels and is being strictly monitored and contained to ensure there is minimal risk to our staff and service users.”

Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust

Out of the 120 buildings used, asbestos was found in 48, all of which were accessible to the public.

A spokesperson said the report could lead to “unnecessary alarm” as it does not mention the “strict regulations” in place overseen by the Health and Safety Executive, stating that no one is placed at risk to airborne asbestos wherever possible.

Listing the various safeguarding measures in place, the spokesperson added: “This subject can cause real worry if all safeguards are not considered.”

Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Three of the 26 premises used had asbestos present, the report found. These included the main hospital, which is accessible to the public.

Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust

The trust uses 56 sites but identifies itself as the duty holder for 77 places. Of these, asbestos can be found at 54 sites.

Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust

This trust owns 10 sites, most of which are outpatient clinics. Four buildings contain asbestos and all are publicly accessible.

London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust

The trust runs three hospitals and has five sites, in all five – which are also all publicly accessible - asbestos is present.

What has the TUC said?

The TUC says the government has “neglected its responsibility” to provide safe workplaces in public buildings, “turning a blind eye” to the extent of asbestos still present – putting workers at risk. 

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said: “Asbestos exposure continues to cause thousands of deaths every year.

"Yet asbestos is still with us in workplaces and public buildings across the country.

"As a result, decades after the use of asbestos was banned, hundreds of thousands of workers, patients and members of the public are still put at risk of exposure every day. 

“The only way to protect today’s workers and future generations is through the safe removal of asbestos from all workplaces and public buildings.”