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Almost 10% of health board’s buildings in ‘unsatisfactory’ condition

Nearly three quarters of NHS buildings are in good physical condition, the report found. (Peter Byrne/PA)

One of Scotland’s health boards has just a quarter of its buildings in a good physical condition, while in another area almost one in 10 properties have been ranked as “unsatisfactory”.

A new report has been published looking at the condition of NHS assets – including buildings, vehicles and equipment – across the country in 2017.

Overall it showed the number of properties classed as being in a “good physical condition” had increased slightly, with the proportion of category A and B buildings going from 70% in 2016 to 72% last year.

But it also showed that in NHS Orkney only 25% of buildings achieved this standard – with 75% of properties there classed as category C, meaning they require investment to improve their physical condition.

Meanwhile in NHS Highland, almost one in 10 (9%) of buildings were given the lowest rating, category D, meaning they are unsatisfactory and require major investment or replacement.

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More than half (54%) of the properties in NHS Highland were ranked as category C, with only 37% of buildings being considered to be in a good condition.

Across Scotland, 3% of health board buildings require either major investment or replacement, with 25% needing some money spent on them.

The NHS in Scotland has 202 hospitals across the country, with the report showing that while 19% of buildings were 10 years old or less, 22% of were at least 50 years old.

In the next five years, health boards plan to spend £3.34 billion improving and replacing assets – which also include vehicles and equipment as well as buildings – the report revealed.

It stated: “While major parts of this programme of investments are subject to funding availability and approval, it does represent a significant opportunity to further improve the condition and performance of these assets, and enable the disposal of older properties which are expected to generate receipts of over £160 million over the same period.”

The overall maintenance backlog in 2017 reached £899 million, an increase of £12 million on the previous year. But when inflation is accounted for, the report said the maintenance backlog had reduced by about £40 million.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “This report finds that there is a high level of satisfaction with the hospital environment, with most NHS buildings in a good condition, and that boards are making steady progress in reducing the level of backlog maintenance across their estates.”

She added: “Sustained investment in facilities, equipment and vehicles is vital to ensure that Scotland’s health service can continue to provide a high standard of care.

“In our forthcoming capital investment strategy, which will be brought to Parliament before the end of the financial year, we’ll set out the further steps that we will take.”

Ms Freeman said changes she had recently announced, requiring regional health boards to break even over a three-year period instead of one year, would provide  the NHS with “more flexibility” for building works.

She added: “The Scottish Government is also not seeking to recover NHS territorial boards’ outstanding spend over the last five years which has been above their budget.

“This clean slate will support all boards to be able to focus their attention on delivering the best patient care possible.”

But Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said while there was a “marginal nationwide improvement” it was “clear some parts of the country are being left far behind”.

With 45% of buildings in both NHS Lothian and NHS Ayrshire and Arran needed some investment Ms Lennon said: “Some of Scotland’s largest health boards have had almost half of their properties classed as not in a good condition within the report, that’s simply not good enough for staff and patients.

“Hundreds of millions of pounds worth of repairs are needed to get our NHS fit for the future.

“Scottish Labour will continue to pressure the SNP government to give our health service the resources it needs so it can give patients the care they deserve.”