20 NHS building projects given green light

Stock photo of a consultant and two nurses in a hospitalImage copyright EPA

Boris Johnson has given the green light to 20 new building and infrastructure projects in the NHS in England.

The £850m package will pay for new wards, intensive care units and diagnostic centres as well as refurbishing some existing facilities over the next five years.

“It’s part of a programme that the NHS asked for, and I want to stress this is new money,” the prime minister said.

But doubts have been raised over whether the money really is new.

Mr Johnson also said there would be an extra £1bn for buildings this year to improve and maintain existing buildings.

The government had already committed to £6.7bn to be spent on building and infrastructure, including IT, during 2019-20.

But despite repeated requests Number 10 has been unable to confirm whether that total figure will rise.

Mr Johnson said the new money – less than 1% of the annual NHS budget – would mean “more beds, new wards, and extra life-saving equipment”.

“It’s time to face up to this challenge and make sure the NHS receives the funds it needs, to continue being the best healthcare service in the world,” he said.

Mr Johnson previously said he was “determined to deliver” on the promises of the 2016 EU referendum, after criticism of the Vote Leave campaign’s claim that £350m a week was sent to the EU and could be spent on the NHS instead.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the NHS was “priority number one” for the new prime minister.

He said money for hospital upgrades was possible because the economy was growing and the funds would be available this year.

Analysis by Nick Triggle, health correspondent

Even if we assume it is new money (and some people in the NHS have their suspicions) it is not a given that it will all end up improving the infrastructure of the health service.

Over the last five years, around £5bn less has been spent on capital than had been planned for. This is because significant sums – about a sixth of the capital budget – have been transferred into the day-to-day running pot to help balance the books.

The truth is it will only be at the end of the financial year that we will be able to see whether this promised money has gone where it should – and even if it does, it could be argued it is just reversing the cuts seen in the last few years.

Read more from Nick here

Responding to the funding announcement, the Health Foundation said “years of under-investment in the NHS’s infrastructure means this extra money risks being little more than a drop in the ocean”.

Ben Gershlick, from the charity, added that NHS facilities in England were “in major disrepair”, with a £6bn maintenance backlog.

Labour’s shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said there was “huge scepticism” about whether the funding was new.

Image copyright PA

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the announcement today on funding for the NHS “goes nowhere near paying for all the cuts over the past nine years”.

Mr Corbyn said “many hospitals had been left off” and “we need something a bit more comprehensive”.

But the head of NHS England, Simon Stevens, said the money was a “significant start” to “much needed capital investment”.

“The concrete steps being set out this week will mean investment flows directly to frontline services, providing new clinics and wards,” he added.

The government said other parts of the UK will benefit too. Health is devolved so Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland make decisions about spending on the NHS.

But under funding rules there will be money made available to them, ministers said.

Later this week, the government is also expected to announce changes to the NHS pension scheme after senior doctors said new rules meant they could not afford to work extra shifts to tackle waiting lists.

One hospital said the rule change, which means “punitive” taxes for doctors who take additional shifts and exceed the limit for pensions contributions, was the equivalent of losing 60 consultants.

Mr Johnson has previously pledged to resolve the problem.

The 20 NHS trusts receiving funding for hospital upgrades are:

Luton & Dunstable University Hospital – £99.5m for a new block in Luton to provide critical and intensive care, as well as a delivery suite and operating theatres

Norfolk & Norwich University Hospitals – £69.7m to provide diagnostic and assessment centres in Norwich, Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn for cancer and non-cancerous disease

Norfolk and Suffolk – £40m to build four new hospital wards in Norwich, providing 80 beds

South Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group – £25.2m to develop and improve primary care services in South Norfolk.

University Hospitals Birmingham – £97.1m to provide a new purpose-built hospital facility replacing outdated outpatient, treatment and diagnostic accommodation

United Lincolnshire Hospitals – £21.3m to develop urgent and emergency care zones in A&E

Wye Valley – £23.6m to provide new hospital wards in Hereford, providing 72 beds

University Hospitals of North Midlands – £17.6m to three new modern wards to improve capacity in Stoke, delivering approximately 84 beds for this winter

Barking, Havering and Redbridge CCGs and North East London – £17m to develop a new health and wellbeing hub in north east London

Croydon Health Services – £12.7m to extend and refurbish critical care units at the Croydon University Hospital

South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System – £57.5m for primary care investment across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw

The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals – £41.7m to improve paediatric cardiac services in the north east

Leeds Teaching Hospitals – £12m to provide a single laboratory information management system across West Yorkshire and Harrogate, covering all pathology disciplines

Greater Manchester Mental Health – £72.3m to build a new adult mental health inpatient unit in Manchester

Mersey Care – £33m to provide a new 40-bed low secure unit for people with learning disabilities

Stockport – £30.6m to provide a new emergency care campus development at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, incorporating an urgent treatment centre, GP assessment unit and planned investigation unit

Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group – £18m to improve patient flow by improving access via the urgent treatment centre

Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care – £16.3m to provide emergency and urgent care facilities at Tameside General Hospital in Ashton-under-Lyne

Isle of Wight – £48m to redesign acute services for Isle of Wight residents

Royal Cornwall Hospitals – £99.9m to build a new women and children’s hospital in Truro

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