Leaky roofs, pest control ‘risking NHS patient safety’ – Labour

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There were more than 3,500 issues relating to leaking roofs

Some NHS trusts in England are experiencing leaking roofs and problems with broken or blocked sewage pipes hundreds of times a year, according to figures released by the Labour Party.

One trust called in pest control more than 700 times in two years.

The figures come from 143 out of 229 health trusts in England, in response to a Freedom of Information request.

Labour said patient and staff safety was at risk in hospitals because of costly, outstanding maintenance work.

The FOI request found that from 2015 to 2017:

  • 71% of trusts that responded experienced leaking or broken roofs,
  • 60% experienced broken or leaking sewage pipes
  • 95% brought in pest control services to deal with rodents, wasps, ants and cockroaches

Trusts with the highest numbers of incidents included:

  • Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust – with 777 pest control incidents
  • Airedale NHS Foundation Trust – 314 incidents with leaking roofs
  • Ipswich Hospitals NHS Trust – 94 incidents relating to sewage problems

In total, there were more than 12,000 pest control incidents and more than 3,500 issues relating to leaking roofs.

‘Dangerous conditions’

Justin Madders MP, Labour’s shadow health minister, pointed the finger at the government, saying resources were being diverted from maintenance budgets to keep everyday services running.

“These latest figures reveal how serious the funding crisis has become, with millions of pounds worth of work needed across the NHS.

“The government urgently needs to take action to tackle these dangerous conditions.”

He added: “There is now an urgent need for greater NHS funding – ministers must take action to make our NHS safe.”

Labour says some individual trusts are now facing “huge outstanding multi-million pound bills for repair works”.

These include:

  • Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust which reported over £4m in maintenance backlog
  • Western Sussex Hospitals Trust which reported over £3.3m in fire and roof maintenance work

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, said £1.2bn earmarked for maintaining NHS buildings had been diverted into dealing with daily pressures in the health service

“As we see from the figures, this approach simply stores up problems for the future.

“Not only are we seeing a growing maintenance backlog, but the proportion deemed ‘high’ and ‘significant’ risk has also been rising year by year.

“This increases the likelihood of disruption and delays, and may pose a risk to patient safety.”

She said the cyber-attack on the NHS last year showed the importance of ensuring NHS equipment was up-to-date.

The BBC has approached the Department of Health for comment and is awaiting a response.



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