Urgent repairs costing millions of pounds need to be carried out at the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust to prevent “catastrophic” failures and risk to safety.
Data released by NHS Digital has revealed the extent of the maintenance backlog across NHS property and facilities in England, with the British Medical Association warning it is having an impact on patient care.
The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is currently sitting on a backlog of £48.9million worth of repairs or replacements which should have been carried out on its buildings and equipment.
Around £7.1million worth of the outstanding repairs are classed as ‘high risk’.
This means they could cause “catastrophic failure, major disruption to clinical services or deficiencies in safety liable to cause serious injury and prosecution” if not addressed immediately.
The trust says patient safety is at the “forefront” of everything it does and is working to a five-year repair spending plan.
Examples of maintenance required could include upgrading software on medical equipment, maintaining generators and boilers, and ensuring the structural integrity of buildings.
According to the data, which covers the 12 months to March, problems with the trust’s infrastructure led to one incident where a patient was either harmed or put at risk of harm.
A trust spokesperson: “Patient safety is at the forefront of everything we do at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust. We have been working closely with an external advisor to develop a strategy for the required maintenance across our sites.
“Using a risk based approach, we have set the priorities for work over the next five years and this has been factored into our planned spend.”
Hartlepool MP Mike Hill says the figures are worrying.
He said: “When Trusts are struggling to maintain frontline services in face of chronic underfunding, something has to give and therefore I’m not surprised that there is a backlog of important maintenance work.
“Our NHS buildings need to be safe and efficient so it’s vitally important that money is made available to tackle this growing problem.”
The Department of Health and Social Care said investment for maintenance work has increased from £324million in 2016-17 to £404million in 2017-18.