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Thousands of leaky roofs as cash-strapped Yorkshire hospitals face maintenance ‘crisis’

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A hospital roof which needed fixing more than 300 times in the space of two years is among a string of NHS maintenance problems blamed on government funding cuts.

The roof at Airedale General Hospital, near Keighley, was the leakiest in England’s health service between 2015 and 2017, according to figures released today by Labour.

Nationally, 71 per cent of NHS trusts which responded to Freedom of Information Requests had leaking or broken roofs between 2015 2017, with at least 3,500 separate incidents declared during that time

Labour said a repairs crisis was being worsened by funds originally allocated for maintenance and building projects being used to cover running costs.

Over the past four years some £3.8bn from NHS capital budgets was used to plug holes in revenue budgets, Labour said.

Justin Madders MP, the party’s shadow health minister, said: “With the Government diverting resources from maintenance budgets to keep every day services running, vital repairs are not being carried out, creating unsafe work environments which are already disrupting patient care.

“These latest figures reveal how serious the funding crisis has become, with millions of pounds worth of work needed across the NHS. The Government urgently needs to take action to tackle these dangerous conditions. The safety of patients and our hardworking NHS staff is at risk in hospitals with leaking roofs, broken sewage pipes and ageing fire safety infrastructure.

“There is now an urgent need for greater NHS funding. Ministers must take action to make our NHS safe.”

At Airedale NHS Foundation Trust a flat roof, which is almost 50 years old and covers most of the hospital, leaked 314 times in two years.

Maintenance at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust is the responsibility of AGH Solutions Ltd, a subsidiary company set up by the organisation.

Its Managing Director David Moss said: “The high number of leaks is due to our large flat roof area, around 40,500 sq m, which dates from 1970.

“We do however have an extensive repair and maintenance programme.

“In 2017 we invested £110,000 in roof maintenance and repairs and have seen a significant decrease in leaks over recent months as a result.

“We also continue to invest in our estate, and focusing on upgrading and replacing our older buildings.

“Earlier this week we opened our £9m new build acute assessment and pathology unit, which is a prime example of how we are investing in our estate to ensure it is fit and sustainable for the future.”

Labour said 60 per cent of trusts which provided figures had experienced broken or leaking sewage pipes in the two-year period. Some 42 trusts gave details of outstanding repair bills, reporting £13m for outstanding fire maintenance and £4.4m for roof repairs.

Labour said it received responses from 143 of England’s 229 acute, community and mental health trusts.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We want patients to receive world-class care in world-class facilities and in fact, we recently announced one of the largest infrastructure investments in NHS history - £760 million for major projects including new buildings, wards and beds – so these claims are simply misleading.”