Backlog maintenance bills across England’s NHS have now reached almost £6 billion, with more than £3 billion of this linked to “high risk” or “significant” issues, according to the latest available figures.
Six of the ten largest problems are in London – four of them in North West London (Charing Cross, St Mary’s and Hammersmith Hospitals (all part of Imperial Health Care Trust, combined bill £649m) and Hillingdon (£80m). St Helier Hospital’s bill (including “moderate” risk is over £75m, and Whipps Cross Hospital (part of Barts health) has bills of £44m.
Other large bills include Doncaster with a total bill of £67m, and Nottingham University Hospitals which faces a combined bill of £104m including a massive £77m backlog at Queen’s Medical Centre. Medway Maritime Hospital in Kent has a combined bill of £58m.
The problem has grown as a result of year after year of siphoning off capital allocations to prop up revenue budget and reduce the declared deficit and is confirmed by the Department of Health accounts. This is not sustainable.
The NHS definition of its high-risk repairs are those that “must be addressed with urgent priority in order to prevent catastrophic failure, major disruption to clinical services or deficiencies in safety liable to cause serious injury and/or prosecution”.