Derriford Hospital faces whopping £150m maintenance bill

Derriford Hospital
-Credit: (Image: Matt Gilley/PlymouthLive)

The cost of repairing and maintaining Derriford Hospital for the next five years has risen to a staggering £150m according to a report released from University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust.

A recent Trust Board meeting heard a slew of details regarding the running, maintenance and future plans for the hospital, which began construction in the late 1970s and has been added to every since. The executive summary noted how University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust had been selected "as part of the biggest hospital building programme in a generation" adding that in 2020 it was announced the Trust would receive "up to £600m to transform services and reduce backlog maintenance under the government’s Health Infrastructure Plan (HIP2)."

As part of this a series of phased transformational builds would take place and in September 2020 PlymouthLive reported on the hospital's new £150m 'urgent and emergency care building'. The multi-million pound scheme includes the comprehensive internal refurbishment of the existing Emergency Department and re-purposing as paediatric facilities. This comes together with a four storey new build element required to provide the additional accommodation to meet current and future demand.


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At the time it was stated that the funding has come from the government's commitment to build 40 new hospitals by 2030. An initial £3.7bn was expected to be made available nationwide making it the biggest hospital building programme in a generation.

The report presented to the Trust Board noted: "In 2020 it was announced that the Trust will receive up to £600m to transform services and reduce backlog maintenance under the government’s Health Infrastructure Plan (HIP2). This includes the development of the much heralded 'North West Quadrant'.

How the new Derriford Hospital could look
How the new Derriford Hospital could look -Credit:University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust

However, the day to day costs of maintaining and repairing the hospital estate has grown over the last two years due to rising materials and building costs, as well as issues with parts the aging building.

A survey in early part of 2020 of the collection of buildings which make up Derriford Hospital, covering a huge 160,223 square metres, noted that at that time there was a backlog of £59,133,150 - of which £753,500 was deemed "low risk", £29,611,400 was considered "moderate risk", £18,844,750 was "significant risk" and £9,923,500 was "high risk". This was broken down in remedial work for the building, 'statutory compliance' and fire safety which brought about the total of just over £59m.

In addition "future planned costs for future maintenance works" for the following five years, amountded to £32,005,750, bringing the overall total to £143,088,073.

However, the Trust's Board were recently informed that an updated survey, carried out just two years later in 2022, had seen the backlog of maintenance costs rise from £53m to a total of £65,894,900. This was broken down into £1,019,400 as low risk, £33,123,400 as moderate risk, £20,506,200 as significant risk and £11,245,900 as high risk.

The report went on to state that the planned costs for "future maintenance works" in the following five years amounted to £30,256,500, which brought the "combined total costs" of £96,151,400 - amounting to £150,957,698 when including "on-costs" such as fees, profit, VAT and "contingency".

In February this year it was reported that construction costs in the UK were predicted to rise by 3 to 3.8 percent in 2024, following an increase of 4.1 percent in 2023. The report, from Currie and Brown - a world-leading provider of cost management, project management and advisory services - suggested that inflation was the primary challenge for the construction industry and the dominant driver of costs increases. However, geopolitical turmoil such as conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East played a part by creating disruption to trade routes and increased insurance.

In addition, construction firms were being challenged by tightened sustainability rules brought into the planning system. There was also a skills and materials shortage with the UK Government’s Infrastructure and Projects Authority estimates that around 600,000 workers will be needed to progress NCIP projects alone in 2024, with civil engineers identified as the most in-demand group.

These challenges were being felt across the entire NHS hospital estate with a recent report in the Voice revealing that Cornwall's hospitals required £78.5m to clear its maintenance backlogs.

A spokesperson from University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust said: "As reported in our December 2023 Board papers, the forecasted maintenance costs of our hospital infrastructure have increased from £143m to £150m.

"This is due to a number of factors including a general rise in the cost of materials and maintenance, the age and design of the Trust’s built estate, and the broad range of ‘on cost’ increases such as specialist design resources and contractor overheads. The increase in maintenance forecasts is something being experienced nationally, as prices have risen across the sector."

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