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Hospitals 'safe' despite £59m backlog of critical maintenance

By Newsdesk Bury

Three of the region’s hospitals have insisted their buildings are safe, despite data revealing a £59 million backlog of 'critical maintenance'.

West Suffolk Hospital Bury St Edmunds Picture Mark Westley (4667629)
West Suffolk Hospital Bury St Edmunds Picture Mark Westley (4667629)

The West Suffolk and East Suffolk and North Essex NHS foundation trusts running West Suffolk, Ipswich and Colchester hospitals have a combined backlog of critical maintenance totalling £59 million, according to data prepared for this week’s Suffolk County Council health scrutiny meeting.

The NHS Estates document says critical maintenance is that which falls below required physical condition, or fails to comply with mandatory fire safety requirements or statutory safety standards.

Despite the backlog, which is valued at more than two thirds of the £79.4 million annual running costs for the three trusts, health chiefs said all buildings were safe.

A spokesman for the two trusts said: “We ensure all parts of our estate comply with statutory legislation at all times. As such, all of our buildings where services are provided are safe.

“Periodically we need to replace aspects of the estate because of wear and tear or where services need to be provided in a different way.

“The £59 million includes pay for upkeep of the estate, which includes any future maintenance costs for our buildings.”

A five-year plan aims to cut backlog maintenance costs by more than half to £27 million by 2023, with up to £20 million income being eyed from the potential sale of buildings the trusts plan to dispose of.

The spokesman said changes in healthcare treatment meant people increasingly did not need to visit a hospital for care and meant some buildings could be used for other purposes or sold.

The spokesman added: “We have plans to reduce the amount of backlog maintenance over the next five years across Suffolk and North East Essex.”

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