Research by the Labour Party Health Team has shown that the backlog of NHS maintenance has soared over the past year and investment in reducing the backlog has fallen.
The total backlog has risen from £4.3 billion last year to nearly £5 billion this year.
The figures on ‘high-risk’ maintenance backlog are particularly concerning having soared 69.3% in a year from £458 million last year to £775.5 million this year. In the East Midlands the ‘high-risk’ maintenance backlog stands at £29.2m, with a backlog of £154.1m identified as ‘significant risk’.
‘High risk’ maintenance are categorised as an urgent priority in order to prevent ‘catastrophic failure’ and ‘serious injury’. Despite being categorised as an ‘urgent priority’ the amount of high-risk maintenance has increased significantly over the past year.
Ten hospital sites across England have a high risk backlog of more than £10 million.
Each region except the North West has seen their maintenance backlog grow, with the total growth in maintenance backlog totalling £783 million.
In London alone the high risk backlog has grown by £338 million, with just two Imperial College Sites making up 1/3 of the total high-risk backlog in England.
One of the key problems cited in reports that place hospital trusts in special measures, such as St George’s earlier this month, has been “neglect of maintenance”.
The financial crisis facing the NHS under the Tories means that funds are so stretched that even the most urgent repairs are being left undone.
Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Health, said:
“These figures are shocking.
“It’s symptomatic of the financial crisis facing our NHS that even the most high risk repairs, which could cause ‘catastrophic failure’ and ‘serious injury’ are being left undone.
“Jeremy Hunt promised to make patient safety his top concern as Secretary of State, but these figures show that promise lies in tatters. It’s time for the Government to tell us what they are going to do about it.”