Clarity on long-awaited New Hospital Programme very welcome but 'capital crunch' persists

25 May 2023

Responding to the government's go-ahead for more schemes in the New Hospital Programme (NHP), Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive of NHS Providers, said:

"Trusts already in the NHP will welcome long-awaited clarity on future funding and plans now that they have been given the green light to start work on projects that will transform services for their communities.

"Safety of patients and staff is at the heart of everything the NHS does. We welcome government action to replace dangerous, crumbling old concrete blocks in ceilings and walls by including five trusts most at risk in the NHP.

"But while today's confirmation of the funding is welcome, some trusts already on the programme will be deeply disappointed their construction plans will not be delivered before 2030.

"Many more mental health, acute, community and ambulance services continue to be disappointed at the lack of money for critical capital projects, with the bigger picture being that too many NHS buildings and facilities are in a dire and deteriorating state.

"The fact that 100 trusts bid for the last eight NHP places shows that we need a step change in capital investment by the government. Trusts that missed out still need major capital investment to overhaul ageing estates.

"More than £20bn is a major investment from government in hospital infrastructure. However, we need to see more detail to work out whether the extra funding is enough to meet trusts' commitments to their communities and patients' expectations. Costs of delayed NHP schemes have spiralled due to inflation.

"We therefore await further clarity from government about its proposals for a rolling programme of additional capital investment.

"The eye-watering cost of trying to patch up creaking infrastructure and out-of-date facilities is mounting with a multi-billion pound repairs backlog across the NHS growing at an alarming rate.

"Without proper funding for safe, efficient and reliable buildings and equipment that patients and staff need, quality of care is at risk."