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Trusts need to spend £1 billion on urgent ‘high risk’ repairs

Figures reveal record-high buildings and equipment maintenance backlog in England

Figures reveal record-high buildings and equipment maintenance backlog in England


Picture: Alamy

More than £1 billion worth of urgent repairs is needed across the NHS in England to prevent ‘catastrophic’ failures and ensure staff and patient safety, figures show.

NHS Digital data reveal trusts have a record-high backlog of almost £6 billion in repairs or replacements for their buildings and equipment.

Safety deficiencies

Around £1 billion of the outstanding repairs are classed as ‘high-risk’, meaning they could cause ‘catastrophic failure, major disruption to clinical services or deficiencies in safety liable to cause serious injury and prosecution’ if not addressed immediately.

‘Deteriorating facilities and unreliable equipment can expose staff and patients to increasing safety risks’

Siva Anandaciva, King’s Fund

Examples of the work required include software upgrades for medical equipment, generator and boiler maintenance and ensuring the structural integrity of buildings.

The data, for the 12 months to March this year, show there were 17,900 incidents in England in which patients were either harmed or put at risk of harm as a result of infrastructure problems – an increase of 800 incidents in a year.

Clinical services were delayed, cancelled or otherwise affected because of problems with buildings or facilities on 3,835 occasions – an increase of 1,500.

‘Less productive’

Health think tank the King’s Fund’s chief analyst Siva Anandaciva said: 'Deteriorating facilities and unreliable equipment can expose staff and patients to increasing safety risks, and make NHS services less productive as operations and appointments may be cancelled at short notice.'

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: 'Investment to tackle this maintenance work has increased by 25% from £324 million in 2016-17 to £404 million in 2017-18 to help trusts maintain their estates and invest in new facilities.

'We are also investing £3.9 billion to help transform and modernise buildings, and improve patient care in hospitals and communities.'


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