NHS capital investment must be long term and must include mental health

02 October 2020

Responding to the government’s announcement of £3.7bn capital for hospital rebuilds, NHS Providers deputy chief executive Saffron Cordery said:

“We welcome the government’s focus on investing in replacing and refurbishing the NHS estate as, for a growing number of trusts, this has now become an urgent problem.

“Any additional funding to address long neglected infrastructure and facilities to ensure safe, high quality care is welcome and a number of trusts have well developed plans to get this important work under way.

“At a time when there are a wide range of competing claims for investment, it is good to see the government making a firm commitment to meeting the needs of some parts of the NHS over an extended period.

“Given this long term commitment, we look forward to the follow up work that will be required here.

“We will need an appropriately funded, long term, NHS capital strategy, hopefully at the comprehensive spending review in November. Building a new, average mid-sized, hospital costs around £500m, so this is just an initial down payment. If the government wants these hospitals built in the time it is specifying, trusts will need the rest of the capital allocated as soon as possible.

Trusts will also want to see how this investment sits alongside other NHS capital requirements – the need to expand mental health capacity to meet growing demand arising from COVID-19.

Saffron Cordery    Deputy Chief Executive

“Trusts will also want to see how this investment sits alongside other NHS capital requirements – the need to expand mental health capacity to meet growing demand arising from COVID-19; the significant maintenance backlog; the need to fund much needed digital transformation; and investment in growing diagnostic capacity, highlighted once again in an official new report yesterday.

“But not all providers will benefit from today’s announcement. The big disappointment is the absence of any meaningful investment in our crumbling mental health estate. NHS Providers has consistently pointed to this vital need and, every time, we have been reassured that it will be met. Yet, once again, the government seems to only be focussing on acute hospitals.

“As a further example of this continuing disparity, the government has already made two announcements this year allocating vital investment to expanding hospital emergency departments, which has enabled trusts to start this important work. But mental health trusts have still not received the 2020/21 investment they were promised to eliminate inappropriate dormitory ward accommodation.

“We know that our mental health trust members will be frustrated and angry that they are not a priority and that the needs of their service users are being overlooked once again.

“If we are serious about treating physical and mental health equally, we need to ensure there is equal investment. Today’s announcement does not give that message.”

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