Thursday, January 22, 2009

Kirsty leads attack over crumbling Welsh NHS estate

Figures uncovered by the Welsh Liberal Democrats have revealed that the cost of maintenance and repairs to get NHS hospitals to operationally safe levels are close to ½ billion pounds.

Targets were set by the Assembly government in 2002 to get 75% of all NHS estates across Wales up to operationally safe level by 2005 and 90% by 2008. Out of the 14 Health Trusts in Wales, only 3 met the 90% target, 5 met the 75% and 6 failed to meet the 2005 and 2008 targets.

A catalogue of other failures from Trusts not meeting statutory and safety compliances to fire safety regulations reveal the Assembly government has been failing to meet its own targets and legal requirements.

Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats has described this as a dire situation for the Welsh NHS. In a debate on a Liberal Democrat motion in the National Assembly today, she urged the Health Minister to bring forward an action plan to bring our hospitals up to a decent standard.

Kirsty said:

“This is a very dire situation for our National Health Service. These figures and failures really show how Labour has handled our NHS during the last decade of power.

“The Assembly government knew back in 2005 that 11 of the 14 Welsh NHS Trusts had not reached their target of getting 75% of their NHS buildings to operationally safe level and now at the end of the 2008 target period only three Trusts met the 90% target.

“This capital backlog is huge and the year on year massive increases in health funding is now behind us. The Assembly government didn’t manage to clear the backlog during times of plenty and as budgets get tighter and tighter, there is little hope that these backlogs will be cleared.

“The Labour-Plaid government is shirking on its responsibilities to ensure that NHS staff and patients work and get treated in decent and safe hospitals. This Labour-Plaid government is taking our NHS in the wrong direction.

“The Welsh NHS may seem to be the envy of the British Isles given its free prescriptions for millionaires and free parking in hospitals, but when you have nearly half a billion pounds worth of repairs to your hospitals, the real cost of giving out treats becomes obvious.

“The Assembly government’s priority now is to eliminate the most serious risks in NHS buildings to staff and patients. By using money from the Strategic Capital Investment Funds, most of which they are holding in reserves for an election year, and by reversing the decision not to allow private funding in the NHS, this Labour-Plaid government could reduce this massive backlog and improve the standards of hospitals in Wales.

“Only when our hospitals are safe to work in and be treated in can the Labour-Plaid government even consider implementing their vote winning gimmicks.”


Peter Black, Shadow Health Minister, added:

“NHS staff are already working under hard-pressed conditions with bed shortages, long waiting lists, strained maternity services and poor ambulance performance times. The added pressure of working in poorly maintained hospitals and possibly dangerous working conditions is not acceptable.

“I shall be asking the Health Minister for urgent action to ensure that NHS staff across Wales are able to work in a safe environment.”


Notes:

Physical Condition of Welsh NHS Trusts

  • Backlog maintenance costs across Wales are £468.2 million

  • Only three Trusts met the 2008 90% target

Statutory and Safety Compliance of Welsh NHS Trusts

  • Trusts should have been fully compliant with Disability and Discrimination Act by October 2004. It would cost £20 million to make the NHS in Wales compliant with the Disability and Discrimination Act.

  • It would cost £11 million to make the NHS in Wales compliant with Fire code requirements.

  • Six Trusts failed to reach the 2008 90% target fire safety compliance.

  • North Glamorgan Trust reached only 52% compliance on Fire Safety.

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