Millions of repairs needed at Leeds Community Healthcare Trust to bring buildings up to scratch

Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust needs to spend more than £3 million to bring its buildings up to scratch, figures reveal.

By Abbey Maclure
Saturday, 13th February 2021, 6:00 am
Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust needs to spend more than £3 million to bring its buildings up to scratch, figures show
Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust needs to spend more than £3 million to bring its buildings up to scratch, figures show

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, Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust needed £3.1 million worth of work to eliminate the backlog of maintenance required at its sites.

Of the total, £150,000 was needed to eradicate high-risk issues to avoid serious injuries to patients, major disruption to services or "catastrophic failure", however the data does not specify where the work was required.

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Around £593,000 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 £2.3 million 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.

The data does not specify the list of sites requiring maintenance investment.

The figures also reveal the trust spent £665,000 to cut its maintenance backlog in 2019-20.

And the trust told the Yorkshire Evening Post that it spent more than £1million in total on its sites during the financial year.

In December, the Government announced a £600 million scheme to help trusts eradicate the backlog – with Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust awarded £61,000 towards one project.

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

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

Overall, it cost £9.7 billion 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."

Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust said it continually assesses its sites to prioritise the most urgent repairs.

A spokesperson for the trust said: “Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust has a continuous programme of investment in its buildings to keep them safe for all users and to improve the environment.

"During this financial year we will have spent over £1m on our sites.

"This has enabled us to address all the high risk issues we identified in our assessment at March last year whilst also addressing some of the lower grade maintenance and environment issues.

"We continually assess all our sites and will always prioritise maintenance and repairs where there is a risk to the safety of building users.”

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 £600 million 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.”

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