• Trust says capital funding needed for major refurbishment
  • Old estate preventing carbon reduction ambitions
  • Trust had to evacuate a ward during Storm Ciara due to roof damage 

A hospital trust has stepped up its calls for capital funding for refurbishment off the back of damage caused by Storm Ciara. 

North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust, in the North East, told HSJ its hospitals in Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees have between 15 and 20 years before they reach their “end of life” and has called on the Treasury to provide more capital for long-term maintenance works.

The provider has a £40m maintenance backlog, including £5m for high risks, it said.

It had to evacuate a ward at the University Hospital Hartlepool during the storm earlier this month, after strong winds blew away roof panels. The storm added an extra £20,000 to its existing repair bill, it has estimated.

Mike Worden, managing director for the trust’s estates and facilities management company, NTH Solutions, said North Tees’ two main hospital sites — which were built in the 1960s and 70s — are now “significantly aged” and vulnerable.

He said its aging estate also made it difficult to reduce carbon emissions.

He told HSJ: “Ageing NHS infrastructure needs appropriate levels of investment. Because of a lack of investment over a period of time we are now at a point where — if we’re going to meet net zero emissions — we absolutely need investment and that ultimately comes from the Treasury. It needs to be funded centrally.”

Mr Worden said the trust’s staff work hard to maintain the buildings, but they are ultimately “not fit for purpose due to lack of investment”.

New solar panels installed as part of a £14m new energy centre at University Hospital of North Tees have produced £25,000 in electricity savings for the trust in 18 months. However, Mr Worden said the trust’s green ambitions are being held back by the money it is spending on general maintenance.

The trust invests £3.5m a year on maintenance but it is not enough to address long-term issues with its facilities, he said.

He added: “We’ve got a very good hospital that is doing its absolute upmost. We just don’t have enough money to fund the core infrastructure. Our trust needs money to make sure it’s got facilities to support services we need. We need major investment into our critical infrastructure.”

The government has committed to various hospital building schemes over the past eight months, but  neither of North Tees and Hartlepool’s hospitals have been covered. The Department of Health and Social Care said the trust was receiving a share of £200m to replace, refurbish or upgrade their cancer screening machines.

A DHSC spokeswoman added: “We want patients to receive world-class care in world-class facilities and we expect trusts to use their existing capital budgets and assets effectively to prioritise safety and ensure the best possible care.

“We have launched the largest hospital building programme in a generation as part of a long-term programme of investment to modernise the NHS estate, eradicate critical safety issues and deliver 40 new hospitals, backed by at least £4.8bn.”

HSJ has contacted the Treasury for comment. 

HSJ Strategic Estates Forum

The HSJ Strategic Estates Forum, now in its 3rd year, takes place in London on 12 March 2020. This is a high level strategic forum that brings together estates directors, sustainability and transformation partnership estates leads and trust board leaders responsible for the estates function who are developing strategic plans for their organisations and local health economies. The focus of the forum is on issues such as availability of and access to capital, tackling backlog maintenance, utilisation of the estate and role of technology in infrastructure development. The forum builds on the Naylor Report and highly anticipated 2019 spending review.

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