NHS Fife maintenance backlog soars to staggering £92m

A long-term master plan is being drawn up to help eliminate NHS Fife’s escalating maintenance backlog which has now soared to a staggering £92.2 million.

By Craig Smith, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 7:39 am

The state of NHS Fife’s estate has been highlighted as part of a new Property and Asset Management Strategy, which aims to highlight the various issues and challenges being faced by the health board in terms of its assets moving forward.

More than four in 10 buildings are now over 50-years-old, the report confirms, while around a quarter of the space NHS FIfe has to work with has been deemed ‘unsatisfactory’ or ‘not acceptable’.

Question marks have also specifically been raised over the future of the ageing tower block at Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital, and a feasibility study looking at options has been commissioned amid concerns about external concrete defects and what the report calls “limited clinical functionality internally”.

Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy

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Against that backdrop, Neil McCormick, director of property and asset management, said the long-term estate master plan represented an “excellent opportunity” to improve care arrangements in FIfe while rationalising the existing estate sustainably for future generations.

“NHS Fife continues to explore how to implement its strategies within existing resources and investigate how services can be re-organised to maximise these resources,” he explained.

“Investment in the board’s infrastructure will be based on the design and needs of health care services and will reflect and address future requirements, taking cognisance of the latest advances and best practice and designed in collaboration with partners and with flexibility to evolve and meet future challenges.

Whyteman's Brae hospital, Kirkcaldy

“It is important to understand the risk around continued deterioration and/or failure of estate assets.

“As the Property Asset Management Strategy moves forward it will be important for the Board to take investment decisions based upon the risk areas in relation to the physical condition of the estate and to develop risk prioritised investment plans which address any shortfalls.”

The report noted that the maintenance backlog had increased from £83.4 million to £92.2 million in the past year, with major increases of £4.2 million in relation to KIrkcaldy’s VIctoria Hospital, £1.5 million at Glenrothes Hospital, around £600,000 at both Stratheden Hospital near Cupar and Dunfermline’s Queen Margaret Hospital, and around £470,000 at Whyteman’s Brae Hospital in Kirkcaldy.

While the aim for NHS Fife is to bring at least 90% of all essential properties to a minimum condition ‘B’ standard, or ‘satisfactory’, board members were told on Tuesday that the high levels of investment required around the Victoria Hospital tower block and other older phase two buildings means they must now be classified as condition 'C', or ‘unsatisfactory’.

Two floors of the tower block are due to become vacant once the new £33m Elective Orthopaedic Centre opens in 2022, and the report suggests that could create decant space to facilitate a rolling programme of refurbishment if required.

However, recommendations are expected to be made in respect of those buildings at some point in 2022 once the feasibility study is complete.

Meanwhile, board members heard that work is progressing well on the Elective Orthopaedic Centre and towards business cases for new health centres in Lochgelly and Kincardine which will cost around £6 million and £5 million respectively.

Around £40 million has also been earmarked for the redesign of mental health services across the region.

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