Harlow: Urgent funding call to replace sewage leak hospital

Princess Alexandra in Harlow

There have been calls for an immediate decision on funding to construct a new hospital due to worsening sewage leak issues.

Services at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, Essex, are being impacted, according to managers.

In 2022, more than 40 leaks were discovered throughout the hospital complex, with about half being considered unsafe.

The trust and the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) were collaborating on plans for a new hospital, according to DHSC.

Following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from the Liberal Democrats, it was discovered that staff members had complained of headaches and nausea, that ceiling tiles had fallen into an operating room, and that toilet waste had leaked into a waiting area.

Additionally, it discovered a "massive leak" that was "threaten[ing] the health and safety of staff, patients, and relatives" in the acute medicine Charnley ward of the hospital.

The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust (PAHT)'s Michael Meredith, director of strategy and estates, stated: "Sewage leaks occur across the site on a regular basis, including below the ground, above the ground, and in our basement.

"These are handled quickly and effectively, but they are unpleasant, particularly when they happen in areas that patients, staff members, or the general public can access. ".

This is only one of many reasons why we urgently need confirmation of the funding for our new hospital, he continued.

However, because of the estate's age, complexity, and the time it has taken for a funding decision for our new hospital, the backlog will only increase.

Artist's impression of the proposed new Princess Alexandra Hospital
A new hospital in Harlow already has plans in place.

The replacement of the Princess Alexandra Hospital was supposed to be finished by 2025, but work has been put off and the projected cost increased by £250 million as a result.

The new structure was one of the 40 new hospitals that Boris Johnson's administration promised to erect by 2030.

According to Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, "the new hospitals the Conservatives promised" are nowhere to be found.

He expressed his concern for the Princess Alexandra and all of the hospitals in the East of England.

"The Conservatives promised them money, but it hasn't materialized. As a result, there are crumbling hospitals and sewage leaks.

It's abhorrent; a national scandal.

Princess Alexandra in Harlow
It might take until 2028 to construct a brand-new hospital in Harlow to replace the Princess Alexandra.

Robert Halfon, the Harlow-based Conservative MP, brought up the hospital's sewage leak issues in 2018.

He claimed that sewage had been "flowing through the operating rooms" at the time.

The National Audit Office will soon release a report on its investigation into the government's commitment to build hospitals.

The DHSC is investing record amounts to upgrade and modernize NHS buildings so that staff have the resources they need to provide top-notch care, including £4 point 2 billion this year and £8 point 4 billion over the next two years, according to a DHSC spokesman. While individual NHS organizations are legally responsible for maintaining their estates.

"More broadly, we have contributed £3.07 billion over the first four years of the New Hospital Programme and continue to be committed to all of the announced schemes.

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