When people enter a hospital, the very least that they expect is a clean and safe environment, but under the Tories that can no longer be guaranteed. Already overstretched staff are having to work even harder to keep the show on the road, in deteriorating facilities that are falling apart at the seams.
The shocking decline that has occurred in many of our NHS hospitals and facilities did not occur by chance. It is a direct consequence of a decision made by the Health Secretary to divert funding allocated for buildings and maintenance in order to prop up day-to-day spending.
Between 2010 and 2015, high risk backlog increased from £322million to £458million. While this increase was unacceptable, since the Health Secretary began his policy of diverting around £1billion per year from the capital budget, the figure has more than doubled and currently stands at almost £950million.
Through our research we have uncovered the scale of the issue that many hospitals are facing, with millions of pounds of vital work to make buildings safe remaining unfinished because there is simply not enough money available. In the most worrying cases, hospitals have given example of fire safety repairs that have not yet been completed.
We have also found countless examples of patients and hardworking NHS staff who were injured while in hospital. In North Cumbria, a leaking roof caused a member of staff to be injured, which led to them missing work for more than a week after suffering torn ligaments.
At the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, a ceiling panel and light fell and injured the head, neck and shoulders of a members of staff, which again led to them being out of work for more than a week.
While in Cambridge, a member of the public fell and injured their head on a damaged area of flooring that had been taped down rather than repaired properly.
Unless Jeremy Hunt gets a grip of this issue, incidents like this will become more commonplace. Staff and patients will no longer be able to feel safe when they are in hospital.
Labour will commit to over £30billion in extra funding over the next Parliament through increasing income tax for the highest 5% of earners and by increasing tax on private medical insurance, and we will free up resources by halving the fees paid to management consultants.
Part of this is a fully costed plan to deliver £10billion of capital investment for the NHS across the course of this Parliament to ensure that patients are cared for in buildings and using equipment that are fit for the 21st Century.
As the Government divert resources from maintenance budgets to keep everyday services running, vital repairs are not being carried out, creating unsafe work environments which are already disrupting patient care.
With leaking roofs and broken pipes already damaging patient care, and with rats and other pests running wild in the NHS estate, there is now an urgent need for ministers to take action to make our NHS safe.
Justin Madders is a shadow health minister and Labour MP for Ellesmere Port & Neston