A Labour Party dossier has revealed a catalogue of incidents in which hospitals were left struggling under a huge NHS repairs and maintenance backlog.
Jeremy Corbyn, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth and shadow education secretary Angela Rayner held a joint press conference to highlight the impact of ‘Tory cuts’ on the health services and schools.
Labour also unveiled a new campaign poster warning there could be 5.5 million people on NHS waiting lists in England by 2022 - 1.8 million more than today - if the current rate of ‘deterioration’ continues and that waiting times in A&E could go up for a million more people.
The party also submitted Freedom of Information requests to hospital to highlight the backlog of maintenance problems - which will cost nearly £5 billion to clear.
Among the findings were:
1. Patients forced to sleep in coats
At South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, the temperature of one ward was so cold that staff were working in their jackets and patients were sleeping in their jackets, along with two blankets.
2. Leak onto operating table
Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust reported a leak from the ceiling onto the operating table. Patients had to be re-routed to other theatres and the patient who was being operated on at the time had to have precautionary antibiotics.
3. Decontamination pipe leak
An Isle of Wight hospital suffered a ‘significant leak’ from a decontamination waste pipe, causing flooding in an outpatient department and leaving an endoscopy department out of action for two and a half days. The problem resulted in 12 cancelled treatment lists.
4. Power cut in resuscitation department
Royal Cornwall Hospitals reported a power cut in the resuscitation department at one of its hospitals, lasting three and a half hours, and its back up power failed. Two patients were seriously unwell at the time of the incident, with one receiving ‘airway support’.
5. No water in toilets and showers
There was a failure of a ward’s cold water pump and pressure system at a hospital in Essex, which resulted in total loss of water pressure to basins, toilets and showers. The ward was closed and patients had to be moved.
6. IT problems
In Kingston, south west London, a problem with the IT system at a clinic left a doctor unable to make their computer work and delayed the clinic’s start by 40 minutes. The clinic had to be moved to a different location.
7. Portable heaters brought onto ward in middle of the night
Black Country Partnership NHS Trust had to bring extra blankets and portable heaters onto one of its hospital wards in the middle of the night after contractors were unable to solve heating problems.
8. Leak caused power outage
Staff at the Royal Surrey County Hospital could only use two light units on a ward because of a leak coming through a light switch. Booking patients in was delayed as a result.
9. Sewage seeping into clinical area
Patients at the specialist Walton Neurological Centre in Liverpool had to be moved after blocked drains caused sewage to seep into a clinical area. The disruption lasted for two days and a deep clinical clean had to be arranged.
10. Disabled patient treated on hospital steps
A disabled patient at a south London hospital had to be treated on the steps outside, as the lift was out of order and had not yet been repaired.
On schools, Corbyn accused Theresa May of ‘taking away school meals and replacing them with a thimbleful of rice krispies per child’.
Labour also warned 650,000 children could be in classes of over 30 and families nearly £450 worse-off per child thanks to the Tories’ plans to scrap free school lunches.
Corbyn said: “Over the last seven years the Tories have starved the public services we rely on of resources, running them down and pushing them into disrepair.
“Patients are suffering ever longer waits and overcrowded wards; those who need care have been left without it. Children are crammed into overcrowded and crumbling classrooms. It has to change.
“Labour will invest in our people, schools and hospitals. We will cut class sizes, take a million people off the NHS waiting list and ensure people get the care they deserve.”
A Conservative spokesman said: “Jeremy Corbyn’s shaky grip on the facts clearly hasn’t improved since his car crash interview about childcare costs yesterday.
“His document about public services is riddled with dodgy claims. In particular he predicts rises in A&E waiting times – when his own figures show the numbers coming down.
“This shambolic failure to grasp detail shows exactly why Corbyn isn’t up to the job of negotiating Brexit – in contrast to Theresa May’s clear plan to stand up for Britain and get the best deal.”