Budget 2018: Repairs bill for crumbling NHS hospitals hits £3bn amid backlash against Chancellor’s spending plans

Full story in The Independent, 30 October 2018

Phillip Hammond is facing a backlash for failing to find the £3bn urgently needed to repair crumbling hospitals in his Budget.

The ‘significant’ risk in the NHS maintenance backlog has doubled from £1.5bn in 2014/15 to £3bn last year, analysis by the House of Commons Library found. Health bosses say this work “must be addressed with urgent priority in order to prevent catastrophic failure”.

Scores of serious incidents have already occurred due to building deterioration – including patients having to sleep in coats in freezing wards, operations being delayed due to leaks on to operating tables and blocked drains causing sewage to seep into clinical areas, according to research by Labour.

The chancellor resisted pressure to pour funds into wider NHS budgets in his statement on Monday, when he set out details for a £20bn offer for front-line health services over the next five years, first announced by Theresa May in the summer.

However, health experts have made clear that the government’s pledge was “far from sufficient” to stabilise the NHS against rising demand. They say extra funding is needed for vital areas such as public health, staff training and capital investment for long-term planning.