Government's new hospitals pledge on shaky ground

08 July 2022

Plans for 40 new hospitals by 2030 are on shaky ground, NHS leaders have said, warning that delays are pushing up costs, denting staff morale and putting the safety of patients at risk.

Nearly two in three leaders who responded said delays to the programme affected their ability to deliver safe and effective patient care, with all those facing delays reporting cost implications.

Amid the current political turmoil and just days after it was revealed that the National Audit Office will launch a review into the New Hospital Programme, our survey reveals that half of trust leaders doubt that they have been given enough funding, while almost two in five said their schemes were behind schedule. Many warned of reduced public confidence that plans will get beyond the drawing board to become reality.

One trust leader said that operating "21st century healthcare from 19th century buildings" was "increasingly unsustainable" while another said that staff were "irritated" that their work during the pandemic on plans for a new hospital "appears to have been lost".

The survey findings underline the programme's potential benefits if funded and delivered properly. Nearly all respondents said their schemes would improve patients' experiences and outcomes and boost efficiency, with more than three in four saying it would help tackle treatment backlogs.

The survey found that:

Responding to the survey, the interim chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, said:

"Delays nationally and mounting concern about funding mean what was billed as the biggest hospital building programme in a generation is on shaky ground.

"Hopes and expectations have been raised. Now it's time for the government to deliver on the prime minister's pledge.

"Trust leaders are deeply frustrated that the benefits they expected to be able to deliver for patients and their communities are increasingly in doubt, in some cases getting further out of reach with every day that goes by.

"This is about much more than bricks and mortar. The New Hospital Programme is a fantastic opportunity to rebuild the fabric of the NHS, providing badly needed renewal for acute, mental health, community and ambulance services.

"Failure to create a modern, comfortable and safe environment for patients where staff can provide first-class care reliably, effectively and efficiently is a missed opportunity which will cost the NHS dear for years to come."