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Bill for urgent hospital repairs soars to almost £1 billion

The bill for urgent repairs in hospitals across England has soared by 22% in one year and now stands at almost £1 billion, figures show.

The bill for urgent repairs in hospitals across England has soared by 22% in one year and now stands at almost £1 billion, figures show.

Refurbish
Picture: Alamy

NHS Digital data for 2016-17 show the cost of undertaking ‘high risk’ repairs across the NHS estate in England now stands at £947.1 million.

This compares with £775.5 million in 2015-16, according to data from the Estates Return Information Collection, which provides statistics on the costs of equipping and maintaining the NHS estate.

‘High risk’ repairs are defined as those that ‘must be addressed with urgent priority in order to prevent catastrophic failure, major disruption to clinical services or deficiencies in safety liable to cause serious injury and/or prosecution’.

Society for Acute Medicine president Nick Scriven told the Guardian: ‘This is a major risk to patient safety, given the nature of these repairs.

‘They cover the fabric of healthcare provision, and can alter the safety and experience of patients and staff being cared for and working throughout the NHS.

‘It could be outdated buildings with leaky plumbing, out-of-date fire prevention or less obvious things, such as windows that won't open or faulty heating systems.’

Modernisation

Last week, Sir Robert Naylor, national adviser on NHS property and estates, said that the NHS needs a total of £5 billion for backlog maintenance.

In a debate piece published in the British Medical Journal, Sir Robert wrote: ‘The quality of our buildings and equipment leave much to be desired,’ adding that the NHS has ‘failed to modernise’.

The government commissioned Sir Robert to see whether the NHS could raise £2 billion and deliver land for 26,000 new homes.

His review concludes that the value of wasted estate could be as high as £5.7 billion and that the new homes target could be delivered in the London region alone.

‘The disposal of this estate would boost local economies and save the NHS £1 billion every year,’ he wrote.

‘These funds, together with Treasury and private sector funding to a total of £10 billion, should be fully reinvested in the NHS to deliver a modern estate,’ he said.

‘This is not privatisation or a “fire sale”, but a reinvestment of wasted assets to improve patient care.’

A spokeswoman for NHS Improvement told the newspaper: ‘We are working with trusts to help them reduce the backlog of estates works to ensure that patients receive safe, high-quality care in an environment fit for the 21st century, as well as helping them plan what type of facilities they may need in the future.’


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