THE ongoing squeeze on NHS budgets and increased demand for treatments is putting a strain on vital hospital infrastructure, a Gwent health board’s report warns.

Board bosses are having to determine priority projects for upgrading and replacing the likes of roofs and heating and electrical systems in order to minimise the risk to services of a major breakdown.

And though more than £9 million has been spent on priority backlog maintenance at the Royal Gwent and Nevill Hall hospital sites in the past three years, there remains an expensive list of high and significant risk-maintenance projects with which available funding struggles to keep pace.

Aneurin Bevan University health board’s high-risk backlog list this year will cost around £830,000 to fix, and includes replacements and upgrades of the likes of low-voltage systems (County Hospital), heating pumps (Royal Gwent), an outpatient-department roof (Nevill Hall) and the main domestic hot-water system (Royal Gwent).

Funding for such projects comes from the Direct Service Allocation programme. But the annual report for the board’s facilities division states that this has been reduced from up to £1.5 million a year to £600,000 to £800,000 a year as budgets have stalled and demand for replacement of clinical equipment has increased.

The board also keeps a list of backlog projects classed as significant risks, a step below high risk, and this is estimated at £8.75 million this year.