Eight figure bill to fix Lancashire's hospitals

Preston and Chorley hospitals need millions of improvements

Saturday, 13th February 2021, 7:00 am

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust needs to spend more than £40m to bring its buildings up to scratch.

NHS Providers warned that the speed at which the NHS estate is falling into disrepair is putting patients' lives at greater risk and making it more difficult for frontline staff to provide the right quality of care.

Figures from NHS Digital show that at the end of March last year, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust needed £40.2m worth of work to eliminate the backlog of maintenance required at its sites.

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Tens of millions needed to restore Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust buildings

Of the total, £3.8m was needed to eradicate high-risk issues to avoid serious injuries to patients, major disruption to services or "catastrophic failure".

This included:- £3.6m at Royal Preston Hospital

- £165,000 at Chorley and South Ribble District General Hospital

Around £22.8m should have been spent on items posing a significant risk to safety or delivery of services.

High and significant backlog maintenance usually relates to essential activity, such as replacing a backup generator.

Around £13.7m was required for medium and low grade maintenance, which typically relates to improving the patient environment and can include the refurbishment and repainting of a building.

These sites at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust require maintenance investment:

- Royal Preston Hospital: £32.8m

- Chorley and South Ribble District General Hospital: £7.1m

A further £347,000 needs to be spent across other sites, which are not listed in the data.

The figures also reveal the trust spent £5.4m to cut its maintenance backlog in 2019-20.

In December, the Government announced a £600m scheme to help trusts eradicate the backlog – with Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust awarded £4.2m towards nine projects.

Across England, £9bn should have been spent on eradicating the backlog of maintenance work required across all NHS trusts.

Of that, more than £1.5bn was due for the most urgent repairs.

Overall, it cost £9.7bn to run the entire NHS estate in the last financial year, the figures show.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: "The backlog is now broadly equivalent to the annual cost of running the entire NHS estate.

“More worrying still, over half of this is for work of high or significant risk.

"In short, this problem poses an increasing threat to safety."

Mr Hopson said it is also impacting on the response to the pandemic, with a “dramatic” rise in demand for oxygen in recent months placing a strain on supply.

He added: “Trusts have upgraded several hospital systems over the past few months to prepare, however many trusts are telling us that the deteriorating state of the NHS estate is having an impact on the supply of oxygen.

“Our members have also been telling us how difficult it is proving to expand capacity at pace and ensure high quality infection control in old, outdated buildings.

“Unfortunately it is patients and service users who are paying the price for this backlog."

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said it is investing "record sums" to upgrade NHS buildings.

“Alongside funding to deliver 48 hospitals and 20 major hospital upgrades across the country, we are providing £600m to tackle nearly 1,800 urgent maintenance projects across 178 trusts, he added."

"This is on top of the NHS’s existing capital budgets which are directed to local maintenance priorities.”