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Outdated hospital buildings and failing equipment serving Lincolnshire patients – report





Patients from Lincolnshire are being looked after in outdated hospital buildings with failing equipment, a new report has revealed.

Sewage leaks, floods and partially collapsed ceilings were among thousands of potentially harmful incidents recorded by hospital bosses across the country last year.

And now the scale of disruption to patient care caused by outdated NHS buildings and equipment has been revealed in a new report.

Hospitals serving our patients are under the spotlight. Pictured, clockwise from top left, are Boston Pilgrim Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn and Peterborough City Hospital.
Hospitals serving our patients are under the spotlight. Pictured, clockwise from top left, are Boston Pilgrim Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn and Peterborough City Hospital.

As part of a wide-ranging study into the state of English hospitals, the BBC Shared Data Unit asked every acute hospital trust in the country to provide details of when estates and infrastructure failures had caused clinical service incidents – when the ability to deliver care has been affected by failures in the hospital environment.

Three trusts which serve people in Lincolnshire were found to have had relevant incidents, while one building has high-risk repairs which need to be urgently addressed.

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The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation, which covers the eastern half of South Holland, reported two incidents, the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, which covers much of the southern tip of the county, reported six incidents and the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust, at the northern tip of the county, reported a staggering 92 incidents – the third highest of the 86 trusts which provided a response.

The Diana Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby. Photo: Google
The Diana Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby. Photo: Google

No clinical service incidents were reported by the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (which covers Lincoln County Hospital, Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital, Grantham and District Hospital and County Hospital Louth), Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (which runs the Johnson Hospital in Pinchbeck) and Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. It was the same story for the East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust as University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, which serve residents in Rutland and Newark respectively.

The two incidents reported at QEH in King's Lynn – which was also among the 10 trusts with the largest high-risk repairs backlog in 2022-23 – included water seeping through from the top floor into the distribution panel supplying the emergency department, which caused the panel to fail resulting in the loss of the electric supply. In this incident patients were moved into other areas of the hospital.

The second incident saw ‘a tug hit a radiator in the top south corridor causing a flood of the top and bottom south corridor’.

Peterborough City Hospital
Peterborough City Hospital

The six incidents reported by the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust (which covers Peterborough City Hospital) included multiple instances of low/no water flow to the MRI scanner compressor – causing increased pressure in the scanner and helium boil off – water flow through the MRI scanner being too low, a ventilation issue in endoscopy air handling unit and water supply issues from the main haemodialysis unit, meaning that dialysis sessions were extended.

Further incidents included the endoscopy service being severely disrupted because of a water sample result and a flood in the second MRI plant room, which called for an urgent response.

The Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust – which includes Grimsby’s Diana Princess of Wales Hospital, Scunthorpe General Hospital and Goole and District Hospital – was more vague with its responses, but each entry blamed ‘estates and infrastructure failure’.

Pilgrim Hospital in Boston
Pilgrim Hospital in Boston

The report also analysed data from the last five years to look at the cost of the backlog of repairs facing hospitals in the NHS.

It found that high risk repairs - repairs which must be urgently addressed to prevent catastrophic failure or major disruption to clinical services - rose by more than a third between 21-22 and 22-23. Data is collected by financial year.

This means the total high-risk repair bill for acute hospitals in England now stands at £2bn, up by 34% when compared to the previous year. The overall repair bill, which includes all types of repairs, for all acute hospitals in 2022-23 was £9bn.

Support beams at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn
Support beams at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn

QEH – which now has more than 1,500 support beams propping up its roof and left special measures last year – was among the 10 trusts with the largest high-risk repairs backlog in 2022-23, according to the most recent, published figures.

Paul Brooks, director of estates and facilities at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The QEH is a Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) hospital, and we continue to invest national capital funding to maximise the safety the trust’s current building.

“Working with a skilled engineering team, we have implemented an intense installation programme over the past two years to create a steel and support structure to maintain the safety of the roof, for our patients, visitors and staff.

South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss, left, sees the problems in the QEH's Necton ward for herself
South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss, left, sees the problems in the QEH's Necton ward for herself

“We appreciate it can be disconcerting for our patients and visitors when they see building work taking place - teams across the trust are doing their utmost to keep disruption to a minimum.

“In May 2023 the Government announced that the QEH had been added to New Hospital Programme so as a trust we are working at pace with enabling work to bring a new hospital to King’s Lynn and West Norfolk by 2030.”

A total of 86 trusts provided a response, revealing there had been at least 1,385 reports of infrastructure problems, impacting the care of at least 1,055 patients.

Grantham Hospital
Grantham Hospital

Health think tank The King’s Fund said: “The terrible state of some NHS buildings and equipment should be a wake-up call for the government.”

The three trusts reporting the highest number of clinical service incidents were: Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust (160), Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (149), Solent NHS Trust (118).

Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: "The eye-watering cost of trying to patch up creaking buildings and out-of-date facilities is rocketing. The £11 billion-plus bill for a long 'to do' list of essential repairs across the NHS keeps growing at an alarming rate.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital
Queen Elizabeth Hospital

"Safety of patients and staff is at stake. More than half of the repairs backlog is of high or significant risk.

"Far too many NHS buildings and equipment are in a very bad way. To provide first-class care trusts - mental health, community and ambulance services as well as hospitals - need major capital investment from government to give patients and staff safe, efficient and reliable buildings, facilities and equipment."

Sir Julian’s £11 billion figure includes the whole NHS estate, including community hospitals and specialist hospitals.

What do you think? Are you concerned over the state of our hospitals? Post your thoughts in the comments below...



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