PRIME Minister Boris Johnson has announced a hospital building programme, but it is just as vital to tackle a £6 billion maintenance backlog that is potentially risking the lives of patients, states a University of Huddersfield professor who chaired a national conference that dealt with the issue of healthcare infrastructure.

Professor Mike Kagioglou is Dean of the School of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Huddersfield and has a speciality in the importance of infrastructure and building design to healthcare.  He was invited to chair the 2019 National NHS Estates Conference that took place in London and featured speakers who included Sir John Naylor, author of an influential review of NHS property and estates.

At the close of the conference, Professor Kagioglou – co-editor of a book titled Improving Healthcare through Built Environment Infrastructure – provided a summary of the issues that had been raised and he highlighted the level of chronic under-investment in the NHS estate.

There is a £6 billion of backlog maintenance in the NHS estate, which means lives are potentially put at risk

“Since 2010, the UK’s capital expenditure on healthcare has gone below the OECD average [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development], so the need for investment in this area is huge.  There is a £6 billion of backlog maintenance in the NHS estate, which means lives are potentially put at risk,” said Professor Kagioglou.

“About half of the backlog is in critical areas,” he continued.  “It can include operating theatre services that have not been maintained and electrical, mechanical and gas systems that have not been updated according to specific schedules.

“There are some serious issues there in relation to the healthcare estate.  They are resulting in operating on breakdown maintenance schedules rather than preventative ones,” said Professor Kagioglou, who added that many NHS trusts are in deficit, meaning the money is not available to catch up with the maintenance backlog.

The Government has announced that it is to fund the building of new hospitals, but it is also vital to fix the backlog maintenance, to ensure that the current infrastructure operates properly and safely, argues Professor Kagioglou.

Healthcare Estates Conference

In addition to chairing the NHS Estates Conference, he has been invited to speak at the large-scale and long-established Healthcare Estates event taking place over October 9-10 in Manchester and organised by the Institute of Healthcare Engineering and Estate Management.  Expected to attract an attendance of 4,500 attendees and more than 250 exhibitors, the programme includes seminars and keynote addresses from experts who include Professor Kagioglou.

The title of his talk is ‘Total Delivery’ of Healthcare Infrastructure for Patients, Users and Communities.  Professor Kagioglou will cover topics including the contribution the built environment makes to healthcare outcomes; how evidence-based design should be used in creating health infrastructure; and how new technologies such as building information modelling can be utilised.

The University of Huddersfield’s Innovative Design Lab, led by Professor Patricia Tzortzopoulos who is co-editor of titled Improving Healthcare through Built Environment Infrastructure, undertakes significant research in healthcare infrastructure and medical devices.