Hospitals face £6 billion repair bill and growing backlog of maintenance issues

NHS hospitals are in such a poor state of repair that many have suffered collapsed ceilings, sewage leaking on to wards, and broken heating and lifts, an investigation has found.

A Freedom of Information request by the Labour Party to English hospitals found examples of patients having operations delayed, being made to move wards and one shower being shared between 19 people.

In total, 170 trusts responded to the request, with 76 of those citing clinical service incidents due to estates and infrastructure failures in 2018/19.

In one trust in Yorkshire and the Humber, faeces were coming through the floor in the ultrasound corridor and call bells were found to be broken on a ward, meaning patients would have struggled to ask for help.

One trust in the North West had a ceiling collapse on a side ward, water leaking on to a maternity landing, and a broken lift which trapped two nurses inside.

Another trust in the West Midlands had an incident in which a broken waste pipe led to waste leaking into the ward area.

Dirt and faeces came up through a sink at another West Midlands trust, soaking a patient’s bed and floor.

Meanwhile, part of an A&E department was closed at a London trust due to a “severe” sewage leak in December 2018.

In another London trust, water came through the ceiling on to a patient’s bed and several patients had to be moved.

An East Midlands trust saw sewage coming up through the drains in bathrooms, which led to water flooding into the ward corridor.

Only one shower room was then available for 19 patients.

Also in the East Midlands, water leaking from pipes led to operations being delayed or cancelled.

Other trusts told of lifts that were out of service, with one patient left on a clinical decisions unit in a wheelchair because they could not be taken to the coronary care unit for treatment.

Other patients have suffered missed X-rays and cancelled appointments, the data showed, while in the West Midlands a labour ward was very cold and babies could not be kept warm.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth (pictured) said: “Years of Tory cuts are pushing hospitals to rack and ruin – from ceilings collapsing, sewage pipes bursting, to central heating faltering, patient safety and care put at risk.

“The NHS now faces a staggering £6 billion repair bill, £3 billion of which is considered ‘high’ or ‘significant’ risk.

“Patients deserve to be treated in the very best quality health facilities with the most up-to-date equipment, and yet the Tories have utterly failed to invest in the infrastructure capital budgets.

“Only Labour will give the NHS the funding it needs.”

The deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery said: “There is a growing backlog of maintenance issues across NHS buildings and facilities. Funding for vital repairs and upgrades is consistently used to shore up the day to day running of the service. This is unsustainable.

“Trusts need urgent access to capital funding to solve the real patient safety and quality concerns that have developed. This funding is also required for future services to meet growing demand, and new commitments set out in the NHS long term plan.

“The forthcoming review of NHS capital spending and Government spending review must start to reverse this trend. It must provide adequate and long-term investment to ensure trusts can meet growing demand and the future needs of patients.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We want patients to receive world-class care so we’re investing £3.9 billion to upgrade facilities, which is already improving A&Es, buying cutting edge technology and putting more beds on wards up and down the country.

“The NHS Long Term Plan, backed by an extra £33.9 billion a year by 2023/24, sets out ambitions to further modernise the health service over the next 10 years and we will consider capital funding proposals from the NHS in the Spending Review later this year.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Stefan Rousseau / PA Wire.