MPs' New Hospital Programme verdict underlines urgent need to boost NHS capital investment

17 November 2023

In response to a report by MPs who probed the government's New Hospital Programme (NHP), the director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, Miriam Deakin said:

"First the government's own spending watchdog raised serious concerns about the progress of the NHP and now MPs have too.

"Ministers must heed warnings that planned hospitals may be too small for future health and care needs.

"NHS trusts have called long and loud for greater, planned, long-term capital investment from government to transform their estates and provide sustainable healthcare. Without it the NHS cannot improve productivity and ensure safe, high-quality care in modern facilities.

"Many NHS trusts in the NHP were disappointed to learn that their building plans won't become reality before 2030 while many more were left demoralised to get no funding at all. More than 100 trusts applied to join the NHP, showing the scale of underinvestment across the NHS estate.

"The wellbeing of patients and staff and ensuring high-quality care relies upon safe buildings and equipment. But for years trusts were forced to rob Peter to pay Paul, using funds earmarked for capital projects to pay for essential day-to-day work. We are living with the implications of this historic underinvestment today.

"Too many NHS buildings and facilities are quite simply falling to bits. Mental health, hospital, community and ambulance services lack money for critical capital projects needed to give patients 21st century care in modern settings.

"Thankfully, the NHP will help some trusts to remove substantial, critical risks from their estate. The MPs rightly highlight the NHS' £10bn-plus and growing 'to-do' list of repairs, the cost of trying to patch up creaking infrastructure and out-of-date facilities. And with more unsafe old reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete found on more NHS sites the picture is getting worse.

"Even for those trusts in the NHP, the picture is still uncertain. They want to know that they will be able to afford to build facilities of the size and quality that patients, staff and communities have been promised. The next government Spending Review will be vital in determining the funding available for trusts in the NHP."