OPERATIONS are being cancelled at one of Scotland’s busiest hospitals because heavy rain leaks into the theatres.

A damning maintenance report has exposed the backlog of work needed at Monklands Hospital in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, putting the bill at over £30 million.

Resuscitation areas are shut when the drains back up after a downpour, according to NHS officials.

The report highlighted a number of safety concerns, including narrow staircases which could put patients at risk.

NHS Lanarkshire has spent £35m at Monklands over the last seven years, including £19m on new theatres and critical care facilities.

However, £30.5m of repairs are still outstanding.

Directors are backing plans for a new £500m replacement hospital which former Health Secretary Alex Neil says is desperately needed.

They insist it could be built by 2023 but critics fear Monklands is being deliberately run down as essential repairs are postponed and services moved to other hospitals.

Peter Owens, Mr Neil’s former office manager and now part of the Stop Monklands Orthopaedic A&E Downgrade campaign group, said there was “no question the hospital is being downgraded by the back door”.

He said: “This maintenance backlog is just the latest in the drip, drip approach to the eventual closure of Monklands.

“We warned when they ripped the orthopaedic services out of Monklands it was the beginning of the end.”

The report into the work required at Monklands states: “The building has significant issues with drainage and blocked pipes, and with water ingress.

“Further impact includes unplanned closure of resuscitation areas due to drainage backflow, closure of inpatient areas and closure of theatres due to leaks and damage to clinical areas. This leads to significant clinical care interruption and also disruption for patients in the form of cancellations.”

Former health secretary and local SNP MSP Alex Neil said: “There is a commitment to have a new Monklands hospital by 2023 and these maintenance figures demonstrate just why that is so desperately needed.

“The hospital is now very old and no longer fit for purpose and while you need to spend to ensure it remains safe, you don’t want to be in position where you’re throwing good money after bad when there is a new hospital to pay for.”

Calum Campbell, NHS Lanarkshire chief executive, said: “There are parts of the hospital that we will never be able to bring up to the standards required to deliver high-quality 21st century health care.

“Staff are working on a business case to either rebuild or fully refurbish the hospital.

"We will continue with our programme of backlog maintenance for as long as services continue to be delivered from Monklands Hospital.”