Health chiefs sitting on Â£13million repairs backlog at South Tyneside Hospital
Data released by NHS Digital has revealed the extent of the maintenance backlog across NHS property and facilities in England.
The South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust is currently sitting on a backlog of £13.7million worth of repairs or replacements which should have been carried out on its buildings and equipment.
Last year, the Trust spent £415,000 trying to reduce its backlog - but the overall bill rose 12% compared to the previous year.
Hospital bosses say much of the work is in areas not connected with the direct delivery of patient care.
According to the data, which covers the 12 months to March, problems with the trust’s infrastructure led to 38 incidents where patients were either harmed or put at risk of harm.
There were 17,900 incidents across England during the same period, an increase of 800 in a year.
Steve Jamieson, director of estates and facilities at South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust said: “Patients and the public can be absolutely reassured that they are being cared for in a safe environment in South Tyneside hospital.
“Like the rest of the NHS we have a maintenance log which is proactively managed, in order of priority, to ensure services continue to operate safely and minimise risks which are known to us.
“Anyone visiting South Tyneside District Hospital can’t fail to notice that much of our estate, for example the old nurses home, Harton Wing and various other outbuildings, predate the 1900s. Although these are no longer used to deliver direct patient care, they are still included as part of this annual maintenance assessment of the NHS estate and this greatly distorts our figures.”
He added: “A good example of where we are prioritising investment is the work which began in April this year to build a new £5 million energy centre at South Tyneside District Hospital which will benefit future generations for many years to come.
“We are under no illusions that the aging infrastructure of our hospital site in South Tyneside requires significant investment and we are currently awaiting the outcome of a national bid for NHS capital funds to help deliver the transformation required.”
The repair bill across England reached a record £6billion at the end of March.
It has risen every year since 2011-12, when it stood at £4billion, while costs for outstanding high risk works have more than tripled over the same period.
“It is an unsustainable situation – both patients and the staff who work in the health service deserve much better,” said John Kell, head of policy at the Patients Association.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “Investment to tackle this maintenance work has increased by 25% from £324million in 2016-17 to £404million in 2017-18 to help trusts maintain their estates and invest in new facilities.
“We want patients to continue to receive world-class care in world-class facilities, which is why our long-term plan for the NHS will boost funding by £20.5billion a year extra by 2023-24.
“We are also investing £3.9billion into the NHS to help transform and modernise buildings, and improve patient care in hospitals and communities.”