TWO hospitals suffered about £20,000 worth of damage during Storm Ciara after roof panels were blown off.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said the storm had cost it thousands after damage was caused to both the University Hospital of North Tees and the University Hospital Hartlepool.

The University Hospital of North Tees had to implement emergency measures in one ward in their 55-year-old buildings. Patients had to be moved off the ward because of water getting into the building as a result of storm pressure. 

Meanwhile, roof panels were blown off the Hartlepool facility.

Mike Worden, managing director for NTH Solutions, the trust’s estates and facilities management company, said: “The reality we face is that our infrastructure at both main sites in Hartlepool and Stockton is now significantly aged, they were built in the 1960s/70s and are now vulnerable to the ever increasing extremes of UK weather.

“Our teams work tirelessly to maintain and provide the highest standard of facilities for our communities; but our creaking infrastructure means we are ever more vulnerable to effects of climate change.

“Working with funding we have available at present, the trust is investing as much as possible to address the estate issues but this investment alone cannot sustain the underlying issues.”

Mr Worden says he is concerned climate change will lead to more extreme weather, which will continue to have an effect on facilities.

He said: “The buildings and houses we work and live in today are not going to be ‘fit for purpose’ for future climate. The time to act is now.”

He added: “Owing to their age, and despite the dedication of our teams and the resolve of the leadership to address the issues, our buildings are fundamentally vulnerable.

“This inevitably means there is going to be an increasing impact on the people who use our facilities.”

The trust says it would cost about £40m to bring all of its buildings up to a "good standard" but says "hundreds of millions" more would be needed to make them zero carbon, as parts of the hospital would need to be rebuilt. 

The trust has started several projects aimed at making it more environmentally friendly, including the construction of an energy centre and solar PV project ­– which have saved the trust about £25,000 in electricity savings in the last 18 months.

It also has a climate change working group.

Mr Worden said: “The new energy centre at North Tees is an award-winning eco-success. Fundamentally, we have reduced our overall energy requirements which is a tangible benefit for all of us.

“Ultimately, whether fueled by fossil fuels or renewable energies we have to reduce our overall energy consumption and this initiative has allowed us to edge nearer to this ambition.”

Julie Gillon, chief executive for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said: “We have been exceptionally innovative in the way in which we have used our infrastructure in recent years, including the increase in services at our important site in Hartlepool.

“Our population has a diverse range of complex health needs. We need to ensure that our buildings reflect our continued ambitions to provide outstanding health care to the population of the Tees Valley.”