High risk strategy as NHS backlog bills keep growing

The bill for “backlog maintenance” in England’s crumbling NHS has more than doubled in the past six years to a massive £10.2 billion, half of which is rated as either “high risk” or “significant risk.”

£1.8bn of the latest total is viewed as ‘high risk’. High risk failures are those that could lead to “catastrophic failure, major disruption to clinical services or risk of serious injury”. The annual ERIC (Estate Returns Information Collection) data also make clear that the backlog “does not include planned maintenance work (rather, it is work that should already have taken place).”

The total backlog has risen 11.5% in a year, and the new, tightening squeeze on NHS funding as Rishi Sunak’s new austerity regime kicks in will make matters even worse.

As the table shows the ten biggest deficits now account for a total of £3.5 billion – more than a third of the whole total.

Nine more hospital trusts face backlog bills between £100m and £143m (Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals), adding another £1 billion to the grim total.

But many more trusts face major, less spectacular, issues as they battle to deliver safe and effective services to patients despite a dire shortage of capital to renew and repair buildings and equipment.

Full story in The Lowdown, 31 October 2022