Hospital corridor

Annual bill for running NHS estate increases to £10.2bn

The total costs of running NHS estate increased by 4.8% on the year previous, rising to a sum of £10.2bn for the period between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021. Increases to energy costs, the cost of cleaning services and investment needed to eradicate backlog maintenance were all recorded too.

The revelations come from the publication of the 2020/21 Estates Return Information Collection (ERIC) data by NHS Digital, which collated data from 216 trusts – including 10 ambulance trusts – across the country.

ERIC data is a mandatory collection for all NHS trusts and helps outline the costs involved in providing and maintaining the estate from which the NHS operates – ensuring transparency over the cost of buildings, maintaining and equipping hospitals, utilities consumption, and the provision of estates functions such as laundry and inpatient food.

Hospital administrator in conversation

Due to ongoing challenges in the health service during the 2020/21 recording period, NHS Digital worked closely with both trusts and the NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE/I) – the collection sponsors – to help clarify requirements and support the most accurate reporting.

This also involved carrying out an enhanced data quality assurance exercise to improve the quality of data reported and analysed in the 2020/21 ERIC data.

A number of key areas of NHS estates spending were also compared against the previous year, including:

  • Financial information
  • Safety
  • Buildings – quality, function, area and utilisation of space
  • Utilities – energy and water
  • Waste
  • Car parking
  • Inpatient food, laundry and linen, cleaning and portering services

These results showed alongside the 4.8% increase overall in the total costs of running the NHS estate since 2019/20, there were increases to the total energy usage from all sources (up to 11.4bn kWh – a 1.6% increase) and to the total cost of cleaning services (up to £1.1bn – a 5.0% increase).

Backlog maintenance costs – a measure of how much would need to be invested to restore a building to certain state, based on a state of assessed risk criteria – were recorded at £9.2bn; a 2.2% increase since 2019/20. This figure does not include planned maintenance work. Rather, it focuses on work which should have already taken place.

Nurse pushing a patient in a wheelchair

Not included in the data were costs relating to the delivery of primary medical, dental or community care, unless those services were provided by staff based in premises owned or operated by secondary care providers. In those cases, an element of the cost would have been included in the figures, but not separately identified.

Equally, additional costs, capital or revenue as a result of Covid-19 incurred during the reporting period was not included in the figures where they were allocated to a specific trust-wide Covid-19 budget.

If additional costs to pay and non-pay budgets in specific areas such as cleaning, waste or energy relating to Covid-19 were indistinguishable from regular spending, they would remain in the NHS Digital data.

NHE September/October 2023

NHE September/October 2023

Empowering the next generation to lead the way in hard-to-treat cancers.

The September/October 2023 edition of NHE brings you expert comment and analysis on a range of key health sector topics, from digital transformation to navigating post-pandemic challenges.


View all videos
National Health Executive Presents

National Health Executive Presents

NHE365 Virtual Events

NHE has created a full calendar of events to address the most important issues that influence the delivery of healthcare services. Over 365 days you'll have the opportunity to hear from a range of highly motivating, informative and inspirational speakers. These speakers will equip you with the knowledge and unique insight to enable you to overcome the challenges that you face.

National Health Executive Podcast

Ep. 36
How interoperability can support the NHS's core goals
with Ed Platt

In episode 36 of the National Health Executive podcast, we were joined by Omnicell’s UK professional services director, Ed Platt, to discuss interoperability in the NHS, practical examples of where it can be leveraged best, the importance of the health service's digital transformation journey and more.

More articles...

View all