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£3bn needed to fix London’s crumbling hospitals amid safety warning

St Mary’s hospital, Paddington (Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust)
St Mary’s hospital, Paddington (Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust)

More than £3 billion is needed to fix crumbling hospitals in London, the Standard can reveal, with fears that patients could come to harm if urgent repairs to buildings are not completed.

Analysis of NHS data by the Liberal Democrats found that £3,112,215,329 was needed to clear London’s hospital repair backlog last year, covering everything from leaky gutters to faulty lifts and creaking walls.

It is a rise of 12.4 per cent on the total reported in 2022 and reflects the growing financial pressure on NHS trusts to maintain their estate.

The figure includes £935m required for “high risk” repairs, which the NHS says must be addressed as an urgent priority to prevent “catastrophic failure”, major disruption to clinical services or “deficiencies in safety liable to cause serious injury”.

The worst affected Trust in London was found to be Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which requires £769 million worth of repairs. This was followed by Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Trust, with a bill of over £453 million.

More than half of the site of St Mary’s hospital in Paddington, which is run by Imperial, pre-dates the NHS and the Trust spends £7 million of capital funding a year just to keep the site operational. Ministers recently shelved a pledge to rebuild the hospital by 2030.

Alarming footage published last year also revealed broken lifts, leaks, sinking floors, holes in the ceiling and cracked walls at St Helier Hospital in Epsom.

In a report issued last November, the NHS Confederation warned that the performance of health service was hampered by “Victorian estates, too few diagnostic machines and outdated IT systems that cannot communicate across between hospitals”.

Last year, the Department of Health and Social Care published a list of 42 hospitals in England that have evidence of unsafe reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).Hospitals containing RAAC have been told to ensure they have evacuation plans in place to deal with the risk of the collapse-prone concrete.

Liberal Democrat MP for Richmond Park, Sarah Olney, told the Standard: “People deserve to know that they can go and get the treatment they need in a safe environment, yet this Conservative Government is risking letting our London NHS hospitals fall into disrepair.

“It is completely unacceptable and utterly disgraceful that it has been allowed to come to this, and is yet further evidence that Conservative party cannot be trusted with our NHS.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We have invested significant sums, including £4.2 billion this financial year, to upgrade and modernise NHS buildings so staff have the facilities needed to provide world-class care for patients across the country.

“The London Integrated Care Systems have been allocated £777 million for 2023/24 bringing the total to more than £2.5 billion over the spending review in operational capital.”