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AN NHS boss raised concerns about the resilience of the health service today in the face of the heatwave scorching Britain.
NHS Confederation chief executive Matthew Taylor said that “crumbling” buildings in the NHS estate were not adapted to the challenges of the heat wave.
“The NHS has more than 2,000 vacancies, it’s got an estate that is crumbling, so many are not the kind of buildings that have got the adaptability to these kinds of challenges,” he told Sky News.
“The NHS will absolutely pull out all the stops and will do all it can, but to be truly resilient we have to address those capacity issues.”
Extreme temperatures today forced some hospitals to cancel operations.
NHS Providers interim deputy executive Miriam Deakin said that the heatwave represented a “real challenge” for NHS trusts, with some having to “scale back the number of planned surgeries as operating theatres are too hot.”
“The NHS is not built to cope with extreme weather,” she said.
NHS campaigners blamed the vulnerability of the health service amid record-high temperatures on the government’s management of the NHS.
“The real story of why the population is in danger from the combination of heatwave and the ill-prepared NHS is one of gross misconduct in public office by our government, from [David] Cameron to [Boris] Johnson,” said Keep Our NHS Public co-chair Dr Tony O’Sullivan.
“The backlog of NHS estate maintenance was £9.2 billion last October. That translates to inadequate, unventilated and crumbling buildings.”
Rail union leaders also accused the government of failing to prepare public services for the climate crisis as operators slowed down trains across the rail network on Monday due to fear of tracks buckling under the heat.
“The government must urgently wake up to the reality that our planet is on fire,” TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said.
“For too many years politicians have failed to invest anything like enough to make our railways resilient in the face of the climate crisis, never mind doing what is needed to decarbonise our economy, for example increasing rail fares while cutting domestic air passenger duty.”
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