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Rundown NHS hospitals have become a danger to patients, warn health chiefs

NHS patients are being put in danger and waiting lists are getting even longer due to a £9bn maintenance backlog and a major lack of capital funding that has left some parts of hospitals “extremely dilapidated” and unfit for patients, health leaders have warned.

Boris Johnson promised in 2019 to “build and fund 40 new hospitals”. But the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA), the government watchdog, later gave the project an “amber/red” ranking, meaning its delivery “is in doubt with major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas”.

At the same time, the NHS in England is facing a £9bn maintenance backlog. Half of that sum, which is up from £6.5bn just three years ago, is required to tackle failings classed as posing either a “high” or “significant” risk to patients and staff.

Now health leaders are warning that without an urgent injection of capital funding, patient safety is at risk and the waiting list for care – worsened by the pandemic – “will grow even larger”. 

Speaking to the Guardian, Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents the whole healthcare system in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said the crisis had become extremely serious.

Patient safety as well as the ability of the NHS to tackle record waiting lists is being “severely hampered”, Taylor warned, because the UK has been “plagued” by one of the worst records for capital investment in healthcare across all OECD countries over the past decade.

One NHS trust chair in London told a survey, carried out this month, that “cramped” space means the trust is not “building up our capacity to deal with waiting lists”, and conditions for patients in some wards were “not fit for purpose”.

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Source: The Guardian, 14 June 2022


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