A BACKLOG of repairs to Greater Manchester hospitals tops £144m, the Oldham Times can reveal.

And this comes after an emergency £9.95m NHS grant for the estates department at Pennine Acute hospitals last year.

Repairs and upgrades to the Royal Oldham Hospital, so the fabric of buildings would comply with current safety requirements, would cost £56.2m.

Even dealing with the ‘significant’ or ‘high’ risk elements of that bill - from dealing with asbestos to ageing lifts, electricals and maintenance systems, would cost more than £16.5m, the NHS trust’s board has been told.

The Royal Oldham is not even the most rundown - the backlog at North Manchester General is £68m.

Hospital chiefs from the Northern Care Alliance I(NCA) - who are responsible for Pennine hospitals now and are applying to NHS England for a further £13.1m grant - say they are part-way through a five-year overhaul of their estate.

One of the few consolations may be that North Manchester General is now part of Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the likes of Manchester Royal Infirmary, St Mary’s and Wythenshawe.

Around 1,850 areas containing asbestos have been identified across the NCA footprint following surveys.

An audit also revealed 30 per cent of issues with the storage of medical gas were rated as ‘extreme’. The cost of upgrading lifts alone across the trust, to be safety compliant, is £16m.

Work carried out at The Royal Oldham over the past 12 months has cost £3,6m. Another £4.1m was invested at North Manchester, £1.3m at Fairfield General in Bury and £867,000 at Rochdale Infirmary.

Lindsay McCluskie, the NCA’s estates director, said: “We want to provide our patients and service users with the best buildings and facilities when they visit our hospitals and we are now in year three of a five-year journey to improve our estate.

“NHS England and Improvement has been very supportive by providing the organisation with funding to begin to make the necessary improvements to our existing hospital sites, and some of these programmes of work have already been completed.

“In order to continue on our improvement journey we will be using critical infrastructure requirements funds, which have been allocated by the government, and will allow us to carry out further work.”