NHS faces £95m repairs for decrepit hospitals

The Western General has an estimated �40m worth of repairs outstanding. Picture: Ian Georgeson
The Western General has an estimated �40m worth of repairs outstanding. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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NHS patients in the Lothians are being treated in some of the most decrepit hospitals in Scotland, as the health service faces a £95m repairs bill.

A Scottish Government report found only two hospitals in Scotland, in Aberdeen and Dundee, needed more work than the Capital’s Western General, which alone has an estimated £40m worth of repairs outstanding and where 57 per cent of the building is classed as either “requiring investment” or “unsatisfactory”.

MSP and Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said it was “worrying” to see the Western “so visibly struggling”.

He added: “The money has to be found to carry out these upgrades. With the disaster that has been the ERI up the road, the Western has been a steady and dependable fixture throughout the decades, and that can’t be allowed to cease.”

In July 2012, the Evening News revealed how water flooded in to a ward occupied by patients with terminal cancer at the Western, leading to its evacuation.

As well as the Western, the Royal Edinburgh Hospital and the Royal Victoria Hospital were singled out in the investigation.

Although NHS Lothian has seen its backlog maintenance bill reduce by around £45m since 2012, the health board remains £95m behind with repairs work, with 84 per cent of that – the highest proportion of any Scottish health board – classed as presenting a “significant and high risk”.

George Curley, director of operations in facilities for NHS Lothian, said: “We recognise that we have a significant amount of backlog maintenance remaining and this continues to be a priority for the board. Plans are in place to replace or redevelop a number of these sites over the next ten years.

“The construction of the new Royal Hospital for Sick Children and Department of Clinical Neurosciences and the first phase of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital redevelopment are due to start later this year and will provide state-of-the-art facilities.

“The age and quality of the buildings on the Western General Hospital site are very varied and work is under way to create a masterplan of the area, allowing us to make the most of the available space and ensure we have healthcare facilities that meet the needs of patients.”

Analysis

By Sarah Boyack, Labour Lothians MSP

THE environment in which patients receive treatment has a big impact on their recovery times while improving workplace conditions and staff morale. But more than half of the NHS Lothian estate is more than 50 years old and some facilities are in dire need of repair.

Patients continue to give positive feedback on their treatment experience, largely due to the efforts of staff, but the cracks are beginning to show. The Western General and Royal Edinburgh require huge investment to bring them up to scratch. Earlier this month, we heard the old Royal Victoria described as if it were a new facility. However, the entire hospital is in poor physical condition and no-one seems to have told the Scottish Government it will be remaining open for the foreseeable future. This is the reality NHS Lothian faces – a huge maintenance backlog of significant and high-risk work affecting clinical areas.

This report must act as a wake-up call to the board and the Scottish Government to address the problems.”