PATIENTS have been left sweating after windows in two Southend Hospital wards were locked shut because they are in a state of disrepair, it has emerged.

This week, it was reported patients on Benfleet and Paglesham wards, both specialist stroke wards, have had to go without hot water because of problems with a new system.

Yesterday the hospital also confirmed some patients are having to be provided with fans because windows have been locked shut.

A patient, who asked not to be named, said: “The windows are taped up. It’s been stifling hot. I was waking up in the morning with a sore throat and my lips were dry. I tried to open a window and it was all taped up with a screw in it. They’re all like that.”

Healthwatch Southend called the issues “concerning”.

Owen Richards, Chief Officer, said: “Healthwatch Southend is concerned to hear that there appear to be a number of windows which cannot be opened to provide ventilation for patients and staff in Southend Hospital.

“ We know that the Care Quality Commission has previously raised concerns about repairs and backlog maintenance. We hope that although the trust is being required to make significant savings this will not affect basics such as repairs to broken windows.”

Mr Richards added: “ The NHS Constitution sets out patients’ rights to “to be cared for in a clean, safe, secure and suitable environment”. Mid and South Essex Hospitals are required by law to take account of this constitution in their decisions and actions. We expect urgent action to be taken to resolve the issues patients and staff are reporting.”

A hospital spokesman said some windows were in need of replacement “when funding is available”.

The windows are said to be safe but some are “locked shut to minimise drafts”. Meanwhile, patients are still without hot water.

Chris Howlett, senior states and facilities director, Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are aware of the temporary problems with our new hot water system. All safety measures with our water supply are complied with. Business continuity plans are in place to ensure safe care and we apologise to patients for the inconvenience caused.

“As with any aging building, some windows are in need of replacement. There is a comprehensive log of the estates backlog and we are making improvements on a prioritisation basis.”

Hospital facing £36.5m repair bill

EARLIER this year the Echo revealed more than £90million is needed to carry out repairs to ageing buildings at the Mid and South Essex Trust – including a huge £36.5million at Southend Hospital alone.

According to the latest NHS figures the trust – which manages Southend, Basildon and Broomfield hospitals – needs a huge £92.9million of investment to fix issues at the hospitals.

Of this, £18.1million is required to fix high-risk issues, which NHS reports say must be addressed with urgent priority to prevent catastrophic failure, major disruption to clinical services, or safety deficiencies liable to cause serious injury.

The most expensive site was Southend Hospital, with £36.5 million needed to complete all the necessary repairs.

However, a series of major investments are being carried out at Southend Hospital, including the £8.7million expansion of the radiotherapy unit.

According to a report earlier this year, Southend Hospital, which was built in the 1930s before the the addition of a tower block in 1971 and the cardigan wing in the 1990s, has issues around space constraints, regular lift failures, high-risk asbestos removal, external cladding and issues surrounding fire safety.