Comment: Hospitals in this state is unacceptable

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No-one will be surprised to hear NHS chiefs are facing a massive maintenance backlog.

We’ve heard stories of Lothian’s crumbling hospitals and the health board’s over-stretched budget for years.

The extent of the problem however, laid bare in a new report today, is shocking.

The Western General Hospital is listed as the third worst in Scotland, with an eye-watering £40 million of repairs currently outstanding.

More than half the hospital is considered “in need of investment” or “unsatisfactory”.

For such a major hospital to be left in this state is clearly unacceptable.

We know the patient experience at both the Western and ERI is generally positive and we constantly hear tales of the dedicated and professional staff.

However, it must also be true that the environment in which a patient is treated will contribute to the speed of their recovery, and lying in a ward with a leaky roof is not conducive to health.

Working in decent conditions is also surely the least that our over-stretched doctors and nurses deserve.

We know the situation is going to improve – plans for both the new Sick Kids and Royal Edinburgh are well advanced – but action must be taken to address issues facing the Western and the Royal Victoria in particular.

NHS Lothian has more buildings over 50 years old than any other health board in Scotland and so is potentially facing the most acute problem.

The maintenance bill is only going to grow if it is not tackled and so it makes long-term economic sense to get on top of this problem.

NHS Lothian cannot begin to contemplate such expenditure alone and so a solution involving the Scottish Government is what is required.