St George’s University Hospitals Foundation Trust Faces Estate Scrutiny

A new £200 million estates plan will attempt to ensure that a struggling foundation trust is fit for purpose.

St George’s University Hospitals Foundation Trust constructed this formal strategy at the behest of NHS Improvement, following a sub-par performance in a Care Quality Commission inspection.

Indeed, the commission issues a warning notice to the trust for breaches in regulations related to safe and fit premises; one of the most damning assessments that the commission has conducted in its short history.

Commenting on the issue, a trust spokesman indicated that the trust has taken serious measures in order to address its problems.

“We have taken action to stabilise the situation – including vacating old buildings that are no longer fit for purpose – and we have restarted the preventative maintenance programme. There will, however, be no quick fix to the challenges we face – and our estates strategy makes clear that significant investment is required in the future if we are to deliver real, long lasting improvements.”

The new estate plan focuses on basic infrastructure, attempting to create a simple foundation for improvement.

Thus, the trust will concentrate on heating, theatre refurbishment, repairs and a backlog of building maintenance going forward.

A source from within the trust spoke on the conditions that staff have experienced.

“Last summer we had no IT for five hours. That was because a single switch had malfunctioned. There are 150 of those switches. If we are to deliver normal routine services, we are going to need to do this work. This is about fundamentals. A serious infrastructure failure at St George’s will not just affect this trust. It will have a huge knock-on effect.”

Problems at the trust led to the authorities ordering the entire estate to be audited early in 2016.

This uncovered a raft of problems, with basic maintenance and routine upgrades having been neglected, in some cases for decades.

Existing concerns about the safety of the premises at the trust where further reiterated following the care quality inspection, which took place last June.

This would be worrying enough in itself, but the trust is also £74 million in the red, according to the deficit recorded in its most recent financial accounts.

Despite taking immediate action in response to the concerns of the Care Quality Commission, the trust was still rated as adequate at its most recent inspection.

Consequently, the trust was issued with a section 29A warning notice for breaches in regulations related to safe and fit premises.

This led to six buildings at the trust being demolished, with the authorities deeming them unfit for purpose, and ultimately fundamentally unreasonable for use.

Plans are now afoot to replace ageing facilities at the trust with new buildings.

This will be achieved using funding from a variety of sources, including trust capital allocation, charitable funding, NHSI, Department of Health funding and private partnership.

 

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