The 2019/20 Estates Returns Information Collection (ERIC) data reveals that backlog maintenance across the NHS estate in England has risen by nearly 40% to just over £9 billion. Of this, high risk backlog has risen to just over £1.5 billion, an increase of nearly 37.5%.
The publication of the ERIC data was delayed due to the pandemic. This data collection covers the period from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020, so the results do not reflect the impact of coronavirus on operational activities.
Other significant statistics include:
• £9.7 billion, total costs of running the NHS estate
• 11.3 billion kWh, total energy usage from all energy sources across the NHS estate
• £1.1 billion, total cost for cleaning services
• £0.6 billion, total cost of providing inpatient food.
In December, the government announced a fund of £600m to be shared between 178 Trusts to tackle critical maintenance work, a figure that appeared woefully inadequate at the time and even more so now.
Chris Hopson, Chief Executive of NHS Providers describes the increase in backlog maintenance as “alarming.”
He says: "These figures show there's been an alarming 40% increase in the NHS maintenance backlog bill from £6.5bn to £9bn in the space of a year. It shows how rapidly our very old NHS estate is falling into disrepair, putting patient lives at greater risk and making it much more difficult for frontline staff to provide the right quality of care.
"The backlog is now broadly equivalent to the annual cost of running the entire NHS estate. More worrying still, over half of this is for work of 'high' or 'significant' risk. In short, this problem poses an increasing threat to safety. It's also impacting directly on the response to the pandemic.”
Among the issues reported by NHS Providers’ members are the difficulties of expanding capacity at pace, providing oxygen support and ensuring high levels of infection control in old and outdated buildings.
"Unfortunately, it is patients and service users who are paying the price for this backlog, reflected by the sharp rise in clinical service incidents.”