THE scale of disruption to patient care caused by outdated NHS buildings and equipment at hospitals in Basingstoke, Andover and Winchester can be revealed following a BBC investigation.

Sewage leaks, floods, and water leaking through the ceilings were among the potentially harmful incidents recorded by Hampshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT) last year.

As part of a wide-ranging study into the state of English hospitals, the BBC asked every acute hospital trust in England for details from the financial year 2022-23 of when estates and infrastructure failures caused so-called ‘clinical service incidents’.

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At HHFT, a total of 13 incidents were reported during the year, including water coming through the ceiling from the roof, a blockage in a theatre drain, a flood in X-ray from drainage above, multiple lift failures, fire alarm failures, and pneumatic tube failure.

This was an increase compared to five such incidents in 2021-22. 

At least three patients were impacted by the incidents last year, although for several of the reported incidents, the trust did not record how many patients were impacted.

The incidents are reported when the ability to deliver care has been affected by failures in the hospital environment. An incident is “considered to be a delay of at least 30 minutes to clinical services affecting at least five patients or equivalent".

Across England, of the 86 trusts that provided a response, there were at least 1,385 reports of infrastructure problems, impacting the case of at least 1,055 patients.

This comes as latest published figures estimate the bill to complete so-called high-risk repairs needed at NHS acute hospitals has swollen to £2bn - up by more than a third compared to the previous year.

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The cost to repair all infrastructure issues reached more than £9.5bn in 2022-23. There has been a rise of £867m over five years, adjusting for inflation.

At HHFT, the high-risk repair costs have fallen 57.9 per cent from £15,775,337 to £6,632,371.

The cost of its general acute hospital repair backlog also fell 44.9 per cent from £153,176,540 to £84,357,710 in the last financial year, according to analysis of data released by NHS Digital.

Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive of NHS Providers, described the rocketing cost of trying to patch up old hospital buildings as "growing at an alarming rate". 

He added: "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."

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

“Trusts are responsible for prioritising this funding to maintain and refurbish their premises, including the renewal and replacement of equipment.

“This is on top of the expected investment of over £20 billion for the New Hospital Programme, a further £1.7 billion for over 70 hospital upgrades across England, and a range of nationally funded infrastructure improvements in mental health, urgent and emergency care and diagnostic capacity.”

A spokesperson from Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We always do everything we can to prevent clinical service incidents occurring at our hospitals, and whilst we know that many of our hospital buildings are coming to the end of their natural life, our teams continue to work incredibly hard to minimise the potential for incidents of this nature and any disruption caused as a result.

“We welcome the significant investment of up to £900 million in our hospitals – a once in a generation opportunity to transform how we deliver care for local people – as part of the government’s new hospital programme which will improve our hospital estates and services for decades to come.

“A public consultation into proposals on how to best invest in hospital services in Hampshire is now over halfway to completion and we’re keen to hear from as many people as possible, in whichever way is most convenient for them, about these plans. The website has more information about the programme, proposals put forward and the range of ways in which our communities can share their views.”

Basingstoke is part of the New Hospital Programme, but the project is one of eight to be delayed until the 2030s.

The Gazette has launched a campaign calling for the government to Build Our Hospital. You can read more about this here.