Addenbrooke's, around 6 kilometres from the centre, is Cambridge's main hospitalJohn Sutton

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is currently facing a backlog of £101.5 million in repairs or replacements of buildings and equipment, according to an NHS Digital report, with £12.2m classified as ‘high risk’ repairs.

‘High risk’ repairs or replacements are those which must be addressed with urgent priority in order to prevent catastrophic failure, major disruption to clinical services or deficiencies in safety liable to cause serious injury and/or prosecution .

The Trust’s data records 49 incidents of patients being harmed or put at risk of harm as a result of infrastructure problems in the Trust’s sites over the 2017/18 financial year. There were 17,900 incidents across England during the same period.

The cost to eradicate ‘significant risk’ repairs is £12.5m, with ‘moderate risk’ repairs totalling £18m and ‘low risk’ repairs totalling £58.8m.

Since the 2013-14 financial year, the Trust’s overall backlog has risen by 40%, with the high risk repair bill increasing by £5 million, but, according to Carin Charlton, Director of Capital, Estates and Facilities Management at at the Trust, £13.8 million has been set aside to reduce such risks after the allocation of extra funding. She added, however, that “it is important to understand that these works have to be phased so they cause the least disruption possible to a busy hospital.”

Although the situation in Cambridge is at the more serious end of the spectrum, [this is] just an aspect of how the NHS is funded across the country

Charlton noted that the “Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has the challenge of maintaining a large, ageing estate”, adding that therefore the entire estate “is rigorously risk assessed on a regular basis and on-going programmes of repair and refurbishment are carried out according to priority.”

The University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine is based at the two sites run by the Trust: Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the adjacent Rosie Hospital, which provides women’s and maternity services.

Professor Patrick Maxwell, Head of the School of Clinical Medicine, and Dr Diana Wood, the Clinical Dean, spoke in support of the Trust, saying that they “believe that the Trust has taken every step to protect patient safety and to enable us to teach effectively.”

They said they do not believe such backlogs have had any effect on clinical teaching because the School of Clinical Medicine “receives frequent, regular feedback from our students relating to clinical placements... and this issue has not been raised by the students as one causing them concerns”.

Maxwell and Wood added: “We are very supportive of the Trust’s endeavours to make a case to NHS England for capital funding for essential maintenance.”They remarked, that “although the situation in Cambridge is at the more serious end of the spectrum”, this is “just an aspect of how the NHS is funded across the country”.


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However, according to the Health Foundation, an independent charity, the government’s 2018 Budget, despite showing an increase in funding for frontline NHS services, will cut £1bn in areas such as capital investment, which is used for repairs and replacements, as well as the education and training of doctors and nurses.

Commenting on the situation, Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner said that “the Government hasn’t made any of this information available”, remarking that “what we do know is that the health service in Cambridgeshire is in debt to the tune of £42m this year alone, and that Addenbrookes is an ageing hospital in serious need of physical improvement.”

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