07 October 2019 | Mark Whittaker
More funding is needed for NHS estates, argues Mark Whittaker.
NHS Trusts have a maintenance backlog of £6 billion and that's ever increasing, coupled with ageing estates, or crumbling infrastructure. Not to mention worsening patient outcomes. To quote the National Audit Office, there is an increasing risk of patient harm due to a continued failure to address the lack of capital investment and rising backlog maintenance. This needs to change.
The government is in paralysis thanks to the Brexit debacle and continually failing to address the current issues facing the NHS Estates sector. The Prime Minister recently promised £20.5 billion of funding for the NHS - but most of that money had already been earmarked for existing capital projects. Not quite the bump up we need, is it?
I think Sir Robert Naylor, who I recently heard speak at conference, is on the money. The government needs to take a longer-term view of the requirements of the NHS Estates - looking at least a decade ahead rather than a few years. Trusts should also be allowed access to other sources of capital funding. After all, if our government can't provide what we need, we need to look elsewhere.
With issues in the attraction and retention of NHS staff, including facilities management professionals, and worsening working environments, something needs to change. The government needs to take a stand - we need to do something and we're running out of time.
Mark Whittaker is an FM solutions consultant at Thomson FM and a non-executive director at IWFM