BBC News has reported that patients are being treated in cramped, unsuitable and badly laid out hospitals as ageing NHS buildings struggle to cope with the demands of the modern health service.
This report follows the release of the figures for 2009-2010 from the Department of Health, which shows that 17% of the NHS estate that is occupied is deemed 'not functionally suitable for use'. Many of the buildings were built even before the health service was formed in 1948 and there are wards in buildings which date back to the 1700s. Some of the concerns relate to badly designed A&E departments, wards that are too small and a lack of wash basins for infection control purposes. At the Great Ormond Street Hospital, some of the rooms are so small that it is a struggle to fit all the equipment in. The BBC has been advised that the trust is looking to build new facilities, but is still short of funds. A spokesman from the Bristol Royal Infirmay said the situation makes providing services 'more difficult and less efficient to deliver', although the BBC has been advised that patients are not put at risk.
A spokesman for the Healthcare Facilities Consortium (Keith Sammonds) is concerned that the situation is only going to get worse. There are signs of improvement, but the main problem is that money set aside for building improvements is often required elsewhere. Plans are being drawn up for new buildings but there are simply not enough funds available. It is expected that the NHS will address the problems.