200 sewage leaks recorded in Scottish hospitals in five years

Monklands Hospital in AirdrieMonklands Hospital in Airdrie
Monklands Hospital in Airdrie
Almost 200 sewage leaks have been recorded in hospitals across Scotland over the past five years, with half of the nation’s NHS boards affected by the problem.

The majority of the 196 sewage-related incidents recorded since 2019 took place at the ageing University Hospital Monklands in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire.

Data released by the local NHS board showed that the building was affected by 105 sewage leaks over that time, mainly due to “ageing pipework” and an often faulty drainage system.

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The scale of the sewage leaks affecting the current hospital was revealed in a series of Freedom of Information requests submitted by the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

The party asked all 14 of Scotland’s health boards to detail leaks “which have resulted in sewage coming into the hospital”, including through ceilings and walls.

Seven boards said they had recorded incidents. They were NHS Ayrshire & Arran, NHS Fife, NHS Forth Valley, NHS Grampian, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Lothian.

NHS Lanarkshire recorded by far the highest number of sewage leaks, giving a total of 137.

Scottish Lib Dem communities spokesman Willie Rennie said: “This will be worrying news for patients across Scotland but particularly those who rely on the Monklands hospital.

“I hope that health boards will be able to offer assurances that these issues have been addressed and will not happen again.”

Colin Lauder, director of planning, property and performance at NHS Lanarkshire, said: “University Hospital Monklands was designed and built over 40 years ago. This includes the ageing pipework that serves the drainage system which is a mixture of plastic and cast iron pipes, all of which are significantly deteriorated in parts.

“There is a regular maintenance regime in place to routinely flush the horizontal drains in an attempt to minimise blockages.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said that as part of its £1bn infrastructure investment plan NHS boards would have their maintenance budgets doubled from £142m to £284m by 2025-26.