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New figures show lots of NHS buildings are unsuitable

Today’s health service is struggling to cope with demands and patients are being treated in cramped and unsuitable conditions according to new data from the BBC. Nearly a fifth of facilities in use in England are deemed not up to scratch including some major hospitals, along with mental health units and community hospitals. Experts predict the situation can only get worse due to cuts in building budgets.


The 2009-10 figures supplied by the Department of Health show 17% of the NHS estate which is occupied is deemed as "not functionally suitable for use". This covers national standards for issues such as space, layout and design as well as the availability of toilets and storage space, and the suitability of office space. To fall below the required standard, areas are deemed to need a major overhaul or complete rebuild.


Of course some of the problem comes from the age of the buildings. Nearly a fifth of the NHS estate was built before the health service was formed in 1948 - wards in some buildings date back to the 1700s. Among the more serious problems identified are wards that are too small, poorly designed A&E units and services being spread across too wide an area.


[quote top=Keith Sammonds, Managing Director of the Healthcare Facilities Consortium said:]My concern is that the situation is only going to get worse. Capital budgets are being squeezed and there is a lack of private finance available. [/quote]


Plans are being drawn up to improve some of the worst buildings, but there are fears the building projects could be scuppered because of the funding situation.


Katherine Murphy, of the Patients Association, added: "This chimes with what patients tell us about them being treated in cupboards because there is not enough space and seeing heart monitors lying next to dirty linen because there is nowhere to put them. It is chaotic and disorganised and does not help the healing process."