Figures show that more than 2,000 NHS buildings in England are older than the NHS

Millions of patients are at risk in crumbling hospitals unfit for purpose, MPs say, as figures show more than 2,000 NHS buildings are older than the health service itself.

Health bosses have repeatedly warned ministers of the urgent need to put money into replacing dilapidated buildings to protect the safety of patients and staff. The maintenance backlog in England has risen to £11.6 billion.

Now analysis of NHS Digital data has revealed that 34 of the 211 NHS trusts in England have had at least one in four buildings built since before 1948, the year the NHS was founded.

Sewage leaking from sinks into wards is one of the problems affecting more than 2,000 buildings that predate health care. Last month it was reported that the ceiling of an intensive care unit collapsed on a patient on a ventilator and that a falling elevator broke a doctor’s leg. One hospital is said to have used its intensive care unit as a storage space because it deemed it unsafe for patients.

In 2020, Tory ministers promised 40 new hospitals as part of a new buildings programme, but the National Audit Office has found the plan will not be delivered by 2030 as promised.

Daisy Cooper, the Liberal Democrats’ health and social care spokesperson, described the situation as a “national scandal”, with millions of people “being treated in old and crumbling hospitals that are no longer fit for purpose”.

“Patients and staff deserve the dignity of safe, modern and clean hospitals,” Cooper said. “But instead, this government has shamefully chosen to plunder capital budgets to repair crumbling buildings to plug the gap in daily costs, while hospitals are literally falling apart.

“Rishi Sunak must get traction and announce a plan to fix our crumbling hospital buildings. Patients should not have to pay the price for this Conservative government’s chronic neglect of healthcare.”

The head of NHS Providers, which represents health trusts, said the safety of patients and staff was at risk, with too many NHS buildings in “a very bad way”.

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “The situation is getting worse year on year. The safety of patients and staff is at risk. NHS trusts have a list of more than £11 billion worth of essential repairs still to be made, and the backlog is growing at an alarming rate.

“The eye-watering costs of maintaining creaking buildings and outdated facilities are skyrocketing. To be well-equipped to provide people with first-class care, the NHS needs safe, 21st century buildings and facilities.”

The Guardian revealed last week that thousands of pests, including rats, cockroaches and bedbugs, are found in NHS hospitals every year.

Hospital bosses are having to spend millions of pounds on pest control after discovering lice, flies and rodents in children’s wards, breast clinics, maternity wards, emergency rooms and kitchens.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We are investing record amounts to upgrade and modernize NHS buildings, with £4.2 billion invested last year alone, helping us achieve the biggest reduction in waiting lists in five months in the past to be realized 10 years.

“This is in addition to the expected investment of over £20 billion for the New Hospital Program – with four hospitals already open and a further four to follow this financial year, and a further £1.7 billion for more than 70 hospital upgrades.”