Dilapidated state of Scotland’s NHS buildings revealed

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The extent of Scotland’s crumbling NHS estate has been exposed by new research into maintenance conditions in the country’s health buildings.

Mental health facilities, maternity units and some of Scotland’s largest acute hospitals are among the buildings in urgent need of repair, new research has revealed.

The research identifies buildings at risk from a variety of problems including legionella, asbestos, questions over fire safety and electrical issues.

The dilapidated state of the NHS has been revealed in a series of responses to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests lodged with health boards by the Scottish Conservatives.

The health boards responses disclose which buildings were deemed at “significant” or “high” risk when hospital and healthcare buildings were surveyed last year.

The survey was conducted for NHS Scotland’s State of Assets and Facilities Report, which estimated that £1 billion needed to be invested in NHS buildings.

Buildings categorised as being at significant or high risk need replaced or would benefit from direct investment.

According to the FOI responses, legionella was identified as a risk at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Inverurie Health Centre.

Legionella is the organism, which – in its most serious form – causes legionnaires disease. It can be transmitted through water systems.

In NHS Lothian, roofs and walls at the Western General needed to be upgraded and similar faults were found at Liberton Hospital.

Similar risks were identified at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, the Royal Edinburgh Hospital and St John’s in Livingston.

NHS Borders said problems in relation to theatres and other equipment at the Borders General Hospital were “highrisk”. While in Fife, boilers at Stratheden hospital were also considered a “high risk” problem.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde claimed none of its buildings were at significant or high risk.

However, water systems at Crosshouse Hospital in NHS Ayrshire and Arran were described as the high risk.
NHS Dumfries and Galloway reported high and significant risk at Castle Douglas hospital, the Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary and Moffat Hospital.

At NHS Forth Valley there were issues in mental health services, a dentist and a community hospital. NHS Highland did not provide a specific list, but said most of its issues centred around ventilation and electrical systems.

At NHS Taysdie there were a number of high and significant risk issues at facilities like Ninewells hospital and the Perth Royal Infirmary.
Last night Shadow Health Secretary Miles Briggs said: “In some health boards, the potential problems could be very severe indeed.

“We’ve seen in the past the impact legionella – if not dealt with – can cause.

“The NHS in Scotland simply cannot afford for that to happen. We tend to focus on what goes on in hospitals and less so on the quality of buildings provided. But this shows that, right across Scotland, there are NHS buildings in a desperate state. The Scottish Government can’t simply brush these off as disused or administrative facilities.

“They quite clearly include maternity hospitals, mental health facilities and paediatric units. This will be of concern to both patients and staff.”

Health Secretary Shona Robison said £1.2 billion would be invested in the NHS estate over the next three years.

“We’re committed to improving the quality of the NHS estate and this is why, with our health boards, we have a clear plan in place to deliver the investment our health facilities need,” she said.