NHS says it needs £9.2billion to clear maintenance backlog and repair crumbling buildings

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The cost of clearing a backlog of maintenance work required on NHS buildings in England has reached £9.2billion, the health service has warned. 

A report published by NHS Digital revealed the sum was needed to complete upgrades to buildings between April 2020 and March 2021 that ‘should already have taken place’. 

The bill – which is 2.2 per cent higher than last year – includes maintaining 10,258 hospitals and other buildings, as well as ambulance services. 

It comes amid fears that several NHS hospitals made out of a lightweight concrete could be on the brink of collapsing.  

The report also set out that the NHS spent £10.2billion to run its facilities in in the year up to March 2021 – a 4.8 per cent increase on the previous year.

And its cleaning costs were £1.1billion – a five per cent year-one-year jump – while it cost £600million to provide hospital patients with food.

The document has been published ahead of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s spending review, which is due to be released later this month and will detail how much cash the NHS will get over the next three years.

The NHS has already been promised a £30billion handout to clear the record-hihgh waiting list for elective care that has amassed during the pandemic. 

A report from NHS Digital revealed the health service needs an extra £9.2billion to carry out a backlog of maintenance work across it 10,258 buildings in England. Pictured: Royal Liverpool Hospital flooded 10 times in 2018, causing delays to patient care and forcing staff to wear wellies

A report from NHS Digital revealed the health service needs an extra £9.2billion to carry out a backlog of maintenance work across it 10,258 buildings in England. Pictured: Royal Liverpool Hospital flooded 10 times in 2018, causing delays to patient care and forcing staff to wear wellies

Figures published today showed that the NHS waiting list for routine hospital treatment in England has hit another record high, with 5.7million now in the queue.

The NHS’ maintenance costs were revealed in the estates return information collection (ERIC) report, which all NHS and ambulance trusts have to complete. 

NHS waiting list for routine ops hits ANOTHER high with 5.72MILLION people in England stuck in queue 

The NHS  waiting list for routine hospital treatment in England has hit another record high, official data revealed today as hospital bosses warned the Covid backlog will not be cleared for another five years. 

A total of 5.7million people were waiting for elective surgery at the end of August 2021, including almost 10,000 patients who have been in the queue for two years, according to the latest figures from NHS England.

This is the highest number since official records began in August 2007 and the tenth time the milestone has been broken during the pandemic. 

Prior to the Covid crisis, the waiting list stood at around 4.45million. It includes people waiting for operations like knee, hip and joint replacements, as well as cataracts surgery. 

The figures also show 5,000 people waited 12 or more hours in A&E before being seen by a doctor in September, which was also the highest number on record.

Waiting lists spiralled after coronavirus forced hospitals to cancel routine operations and turn over entire wards to patients suffering from the disease at the start of the crisis last spring. Social distancing and other Covid precautions have made it more difficult to chip away at the backlog.

But the record-breaking figures come before the busiest time of the year for hospitals, with health bosses fearing the UK will be hit with a double-whammy of rising Covid case numbers and flu this winter. 

England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty this morning said the winter would be ‘exceptionally difficult for the NHS’.

It comes as a survey of NHS trust leaders, carried out by NHS Providers, revealed a third of bosses believe the Covid backlog will take between three and five years to clear.

With waiting lists already at their highest ever, some 96 per cent of bosses said demand is significantly rising, with mental health, urgent and emergency care and cancer services topping their worries.

It gathers data on the costs of maintaining NHS buildings and equipment, as well as the price of laundry and food services within the NHS and energy bills.

Of the £9.2billion needed to carry out the necessary upgrades, the NHS deemed £1.6billion worth of the work was ‘high risk’, while £3billion had a ‘significant risk’.

Concerns have been raised about hospitals built with a lightweight form of concrete planks that have deteriorated over time and become unstable. 

Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) planks, widely used in construction in the 1960s and 1980s, are said to be much weaker than traditional concrete. 

At least seven hospitals across England were built using the planks. 

Meanwhile, £3.5billion is needed to complete ‘moderate risk’ maintenance work, while £1.1billion of the work is ‘low risk’. 

The documents also shows 1,602 safety incidents – including injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences – related to its facilities were reported to the Health and Safety Executive, which oversees workplace health and safety.

And 12,896 incidents relating to its infrastructure were reported through a separate database. Both figures are down on the number of incidents recorded in 2019. 

And 51 people were injured in fires on NHS premises, up from 46 one year earlier.  

Health bosses already asked for an extra £1.5billion in funding last month to fix leaking roofs, broken boilers and faulty air conditioning in operating theatres.

It came after No10 announced a 1.25 per cent national insurance hike to give the health service an extra £12billion to tackle the Covid-fuelled backlog. But bosses warned red tape means this money can’t be spent on maintenance.  

Saffron Cordery, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, said the report outlines the need for the Government to agree a multi-year funding plan for NHS facilities to ensure buildings and equipment are ‘safe, efficient and reliable’. 

She said: ‘The benefits of capital investment are substantial. 

‘A multi-year settlement would allow the NHS to increase physical and diagnostic capacity, accelerate digital transformation, reconfigure hospitals to deal with future waves of Covid and winter pressures as well as creating safe therapeutic environments for mental health services and investing in new ways of treating patients to improve outcomes.

‘We welcomed the Government’s recent announcement of increased revenue funding for the NHS, but this will not deliver the desired improvements without appropriate capital expenditure. 

‘As we reach the final, critical stages of negotiations on the spending review, it’s vital the government heeds trust leaders’ warnings and gives the NHS the capital investment it so desperately needs.’ 

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