Large number of sewage leaks a reason why new £2.5 million cancer unit opened at Princess Alexandra Hospital

Health / Tue 15th Aug 2023 at 07:39am

PRINCESS Alexandra Hospital has had to open a new unit to support cancer patients and provide facilities for the manufacture of chemotherapy drugs reports the Local Democracy Reporting Scheme.

The new unit was created after 40 sewage leaks were reported across the hospital estate over 12 months and staff were feeling sick due to working among the smell of human waste.

The Princess Alexandra NHS Trust in Harlow saw the opening of its state-of-the-art Technical Service Unit at the end of July.

Costing £2.5 million, the taxpayer-funded unit features sterile rooms and two negative pressure isolators for the safe handling of chemotherapy medications, as well as a dedicated dispensary and clinical trial medication office.

However, as the government has confirmed that full funding for a new hospital building has been awarded the current unit will not be used for its normal term.

The New Princess Alexandra Hospital is one of 40 under the New Hospital Programme (NHP) due to open by 2030, meaning that functioning equipment will be moved to the site’s new oncology unit, but the facility itself will close once development is complete.

The unit will only have a life span of around six to eight years, compared to the 12 to 15 years which is usually expected.

During a press briefing on August 2, Michael Meredith, director of strategy and estates for the trust said: “[The new unit] will help us to continue improving speed of and access to care for our patients.”

He said choosing to make the £2.5 million investment into the Technical Service Unit was a “balancing act” between saving public money and keeping vulnerable patients safe, but that it was ultimately necessary for the hospital to get out of the “tricky zone” it had found itself in.

The trust reported 40 sewage leaks on hospital premises in the 12 months leading up to February this year.

One incident saw a patient slip due to a leak, while staff members were left feeling nauseous and struggling to work because of the smell of human waste.

Industrial action taken by NHS staff has also created a backlog in terms of the progress of infrastructure work, treatment services and medical procedures, and will continue to do so until August 26. By this point, there will have been 23 working days of strikes in 2023 alone.

Despite Meredith saying that the trust had “managed the urgent and immediate extremely well,” a CQC inspection and report published on June 16 showed that states that overall, urgent and emergency care at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow and the trust’s two other satellite sites (Herts and Essex Hospital and St Margaret’s Hospital) were rated as requiring improvement.

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2 Comments for Large number of sewage leaks a reason why new £2.5 million cancer unit opened at Princess Alexandra Hospital:

David Forman
2023-08-15 09:52:45

Drain clearance vehicles are regular attenders at PAH. This is what happens when money for building maintenance gets diverted for patient care. The total backlog of repairs in the NHS estate was reported in October 2022 at £10.2 billion. See https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/estates-returns-information-collection/england-2021-22

2023-08-15 09:53:36

Well this article confirms what many of us have known for a while now that the NHS is in the SHIT.

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