Beds, Herts & Bucks

West Herts Hospital trust reveals £67m repair backlog

A repair and maintenance backlog at three Hertfordshire hospitals will cost £67m to fix, a health trust has said.

West Herts Hospital NHS Trust has been given over £16m of government funding towards the work at Watford, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead hospitals.

A spokeswoman said the cash would let the "most urgent" improvements take place, including a new ventilation system and asbestos removal.

A county councillor has called the high risk areas of repair "alarming".

The trust said a "level of indecision" over the future of all West Herts' hospitals in recent years meant it had not focussed on the older buildings.

An independent assessment of all three hospital sites at the end of last year showed about £67m was needed over six years to ensure its buildings were "fit for purpose".

Chief executive Samantha Jones said: "The £16.2 million from the Department of Health makes a major dent into that figure and allows us to make the most urgent improvements."

These include a £2.7m ward upgrade, £1.9m improvements to the outside of buildings and a new £3.5m back-up electricity system at Watford Hospital.

Removing asbestos from older buildings will cost £1m and old empty buildings will cost £700,000 to demolish.

Upgrades to the hospitals' operating theatres, electrical infrastructure and replacement water pipes and windows are also planned.

The works are due to be completed over the next 18 months.

'Bigger picture'

The trust said it currently spent about £8m every year upgrading its sites and would need to assess how much of that could be spent over the further five years to deal with the rest of the backlog.

"We could ask for further funding, but looking at the bigger picture, we may have new buildings as part of the clinical strategy for West Herts so we may not have to spend as much as predicted," Ms Jones said.

St Albans Liberal Democrat county councillor, Sandy Walkington, said the areas of high risk that needed to be fixed were "alarming".

"You should go to hospital with the expectation that you are going to be made better, not with the expectation that you run the risk of all sorts of other things happening because the buildings are not in the right state," he said.

"But there is a new management team now... and it is really very important that they show there is a path forward... "

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