Crumbling NHS hospitals are suffering chemical leaks and broken fire alarms as the cost of tackling the repair backlog passes £10 billion, an investigation reveals.

Last year, managers reported 115 chemical events, including incidents in children's wards, A&Es, and maternity units. The repair expense was characterised as 'eye-watering' by health officials last night, who also warned that buildings and infrastructure are 'in a very terrible position and becoming worse'.

Manchester University Trust documented 22 chemical spills, more than any other trust that replied to the Liberal Democrats' Freedom of Information request. This includes an incident at a St. Mary's birthing delivery unit and a Royal Manchester Children's Hospital Children's Theatre.

An NHS hospital in Newcastle had six leaks, including some in the kitchen, while Kingston Hospital in London had eight leaks, and Lewisham Hospital had a chemical leak in their A&E ward. 

In a separate FOI request, the Party inquired about the number of fires in the previous year as well as the number of faulty fire alarms. Although 83 trusts provided data, reporting a total of 297 fires, NHS records indicate 1,159 fires across the NHS in 2022. 

Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which had 17 fires in its hospitals last year, also had 17 broken fire alarms. The University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust had two fires and 17 broken alarms.

In addition, the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, which experienced one fire in its facility last year, has 17 faulty fire alarms. Official estimates reveal that the cost of eliminating the NHS hospital and equipment maintenance backlog surpassed £10 billion for the first time last year. 

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, said: 'Keeping patients and staff safe is vital. High-quality care depends on having reliable buildings and equipment." Too many NHS buildings and facilities are in very bad shape and getting worse. 

'Trust leaders have warned long and loud about the eye-watering cost of trying to patch up creaking infrastructure and out-of-date facilities. ' The multi-billion pound repair bill is growing at an alarming rate. ' Many trusts in the government's New Hospital Programme were deeply disappointed to learn that their building plans wouldn't be delivered before 2030.

 'It was even more frustrating for those that missed the 'cut' and weren't given any funding at all despite expectations. 'Hospitals and mental health, ambulance, and community NHS services need investment for essential projects to overhaul ageing facilities, improve care, support staff, and give a lift to their communities.'

Another FOI request by the Liberal Democrats last year discovered hundreds of sewage leaks in hospitals around the country. Daisy Cooper, the Liberal Democrat health and social care spokesperson, said, 'This is shocking. 'Hospitals are falling apart, with chemical leaks in critical wards and a frightening number of faulty fire alarms. ' The repair budget for crumbling hospitals is mounting up, yet Ministers are nowhere to be found. ' We already know the government is on track to break its promise to deliver it's so-called 'new hospitals' by 2030, so the very least they could do is fix the ones we have. ' Patients deserve the dignity of being treated in safe, modern, and clean hospitals. 

'Instead, we have heard stories of sewage spills and chemical leaks leading to evacuations. 'The British public pays their fair share and deserves better than this. 'The Conservative government needs to step up and fix our hospitals.'

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