Hospitals in England are blighted by leaking pipes, crumbling ceilings and broken lifts, a damning investigation has revealed.
At least 76 NHS hospital trusts experienced safety incidents last year because their buildings are outdated or falling apart.
In one gruesome example, sewage spurted out of a drain and landed on a patient’s bed, while another had human faeces seeping up through the floor.
Broken lifts have trapped staff and left patients lingering in corridors, and fallen ceilings have narrowly missed patients lying in beds below.
Data released by hospitals themselves showed the shocking toll a £6billion backlog of maintenance work is taking on frontline health services.
The research was done by the Labour Party, which received Freedom of Information responses from 170 hospital trusts across the country.
BBC’s Hospital documentary earlier this year revealed the Royal Liverpool Hospital flooded 10 times last year, causing delays to patient care and forcing staff to wear wellies (pictured)
Its Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, has slammed Conservative Party cuts to NHS funding for sending public hospitals to ‘ruin’.
Particularly horrifying are the revelations of incidents involving sewage, of which the party released numerous examples – although it’s refused to name the trusts.
In one trust in London the A&E department had to be partly closed because of a ‘severe’ sewage leak in December last year.
WHAT INCIDENTS DID THE ENGLISH HOSPITALS REPORT?
- Ceiling collapse on a side ward, water leaking from the ceiling on the top of the maternity landing and a lift broke down trapping two nurses inside (North West)
- Call bells were broken on a ward. Faeces coming through the floor on the ultrasound corridor (Yorkshire and the Humber)
- Waste pipe above a ward broke, resulting in waste leaking into the ward area (West Midlands)
- Part of the Emergency Department was closed due to a ‘severe’ sewage leak in December 2018 (London)
- Dirt/faeces/slime spurted up through a sink. This landed on a patient’s bed, and covered the floor and surrounding area. There was also a ‘severe’ leak from the roof by the maternity unit. Store cupboards were soaked, and water was going into electric fittings (West Midlands)
- A lift which had initially had a jammed door, stopped working. Staff and patients were unable to use the lift (South East)
- Water poured onto a ward bed from the ceiling and patients had to be moved (London)
- Sewage was coming up through the drains in bathrooms, water flooded into the ward corridor. Only one shower room was able to be used for 19 patients (East Midlands)
- Water leaking from pipes led to delays to patients being operated on – operating time had to be reduced and some were cancelled or relocated (East Midlands
- Several lifts out of service left no access to the Coronary Care Unit for catering trolleys, bed or patients. A patient was left on the Clinical Decisions Unit in a wheelchair, as they were unable to access CCU for treatment (East Midlands)
- A burst pipe meant no x-rays could be taken (South)
- Ceiling panel on a ward collapsed, but fortunately missed the patient (North West)
- People were trapped in a lift (London)
- ‘Ceiling leakage’ and tiles falling off on numerous areas on a ward, and that on one occasion the labour ward was very cold, and they were unable to keep babies warm (West Midlands)
- Lifts were not in action, making it impossible to get immobile patients upstairs – some were coming directly from clinic for urgent surgery and appointments had to be cancelled (South East)
And at another in the West Midlands, while a drain was being cleaned, dirt, faeces and slime spurted up through a sink and landed on a patient’s bed while also covering the surrounding floor.
Sewage came up through the bathroom drains in a trust in the East Midlands, and another in Yorkshire and the Humber had ‘faeces coming through the floor on the ultrasound corridor’.
Mr Ashworth, the MP for Leicester South, said: ‘Years of Tory cuts are pushing hospitals to rack and ruin.
‘From ceilings collapsing, sewage pipes bursting to central heating faltering patient safety and care put at risk.
‘The NHS now faces a staggering £6billion repair bill, £3billion of which is considered “high” or “significant” risk.
‘Patients deserve to be treated in the very best quality health facilities with the most up to date equipment.
‘And yet the Tories have utterly failed to invest in the infrastructure capital budgets. Only Labour will give the NHS the funding it needs.’
Collapsing ceilings were also a major worry – in a trust in the North West a ceiling panel had fallen down on a ward where patients were being treated.
Ceiling tiles fell off in ‘numerous areas’ on a ward in the West Midlands, while in one London hospital water began pouring out of the ceiling and patients had to be moved.
Labour’s research revealed a huge backlog of maintenance work is putting staff and patients at risk of injury or ward closures.
The value of high-risk repairs outstanding has shot up from £947million in 2016/17 to more than £1billion in 2018/19, the research said.
Leaks were common issues reported by the hospitals, with many having burst pipes or leaking ceilings or drains which led to medical care being interrupted.
There were also problems with maternity wards, with one in the North West having water coming from the ceiling and another so cold the babies couldn’t be kept warm.
And out-of-service lifts led to a heart patient unit being inaccessible to patients and others broke down with nurses and other people in them, trapping them.
NHS England refused to comment on the findings.
But officials have repeatedly told the Government they need more money if they are going to improve – or even maintain the same standards – of healthcare.
Last week the NHS’s chief executive, Simon Stevens, told the Health and Social Care Committee he’s unable to upgrade the health service
‘Over the last five or eight years public investment has been constrained, and that is going to stand in the way of some of the quality and productivity improvements that we want to see in the NHS,’ he said.
‘The capital, the equipment and the facilities available per staff member in the NHS have decreased in value by 17 per cent since 2010.
‘Most other sectors of the economy that are driving productivity and improvement would be increasing the capital available to their staff.’