Dear Editor, There are many – perhaps many thousand – public buildings erected since the 1930s that contain asbestos.

Predominantly they are in continuous use, and serve their local communities well. Overwhelmingly the view is that they are perfectly safe provided the asbestos is not disturbed. (Indeed the consequences of taking an alternative view hardly bear thinking about.)

Had this simple fact been recognised by the management of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust we would not now be facing the absurd situation of the old QEH building being left to rot. When they sat down to do their appraisal of options one of those options would have been to refurbish and upgrade the present building.

Even after taking all appropriate precautions with the asbestos this could have been achieved at comparatively modest cost. This would have looked a more viable option.

Meanwhile, the option of building a brand new hospital, financed by the notorious Private Finance Initiative at enormous expense, would have looked far less attractive. Now we face the embarrassment of one of the major benefits of that scheme – namely the release of several acres of prime Edgbaston land – not being realised.

Fortunately the situation can be rescued by coming up with an alternative use for the old QEH building.

At the recent AGM of the Birmingham Civic Society there was a fascinating presentation by Urban Splash, the people who have successfully renovated both Fort Dunlop and the Rotunda. They must be invited in as a matter of urgency.

Anthony N Cook.