News & Media

Maintenance backlog costs grow for hospitals

07.01.2021

Annual data on the pressures for England’s hospital buildings has been published today – showing a steep rise in the investment needed to tackle their backlog of maintenance, from £6.5bn in 2018-19 to £9bn in 2019-20.

The annual Estates Return and Information Collection (ERIC) figures, published by NHS Digital, are one indication of the funding that would be needed to modernise these complex estates, and don’t yet reflect the impact of the pandemic for the NHS’s hospital and ambulance facilities and buildings.

Our CEO, Jonathan Murphy, said: “In a week when the pressures of the pandemic on hospital capacity have never been more stark and the second vaccine is rolled out to GP surgery buildings, the experiences of NHS staff and patients now must inform and shape the health and care spaces of the future. Hospital upgrades are desperately needed but the common denominator is flexible, modern, local capacity in primary care. Looking ahead, as the NHS attempts to address care backlogs and GPs look to a future where clicks and consultations combine, the most transformative infrastructure investment in healthcare should focus on creating the right space for consultation (both digital and traditional), diagnostics and treatment close to home, in order to truly help ease the pressure on the UK’s creaking hospital estate.”

Working with YouGov last year, we asked doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals for their reflections on the healthcare premises they’ve worked at or visited since March 2020.

While just over half (55%) said sites they’ve used were fit for purpose during the pandemic so far, 27% said premises had not worked that well or at all well for the services provided within.

Concerns about lack of space to implement social distancing in both clinical and staff areas, infection risk in older buildings and inflexible layouts were among the challenges flagged by workers across organisations such as hospitals, health centres and mental health sites. We also asked what they would want to see in community medical centre buildings of the future, based on their experiences of care during the pandemic at that time. The most called-for features were:

  • More flexible space which can be adapted quickly when needed (70%)
  • The ability to divide the building or isolate specific areas (64%)
  • Both face-to-face consulting rooms and smaller remote consulting spaces (52%)
  • External spaces for both patients and staff (49%)
  • Intercom systems for communicating with patients outside the building or in different zones (42%)
  • Room for more on-site diagnostic options away from hospital (42%)
  • Room for more on-site treatments away from hospital (41%)

Read Jonathan’s earlier blogs on ERIC data