Two separate investigations published this week reveal that the UK government is billions of pounds behind on what it promised to spend to upgrade England’s hospitals.
On Monday, the HSJ revealed that less than half of the £2.7bn ($3.4bn) awarded to hospital trusts in England for projects in 2017 and 2018 was actually spent.
And on Wednesday, the BBC reported that of the 40 new hospital projects announced in 2019, construction had begun on just seven.
Plans on hold or canceled
Five years ago, the UK government said it would spend billions in 2017 and 2018 on more than 140 hospital construction projects. The comprehensive program would include things like upgraded emergency departments and new primary care centers.
But the HSJ investigation revealed that only a fraction of these projects – 38% – were actually completed with the promised funds. One was abolished with funding from elsewhere, but many were either on ‘stasis’ or were scrapped altogether. The future of many remains uncertain.
The Department of Health and Social Care told HSJ that the schemes have not been delayed as such, but they cannot be funded without a centrally approved business case.
Hospitals will have to develop their own building plans for this scheme, and many of these have not yet been signed off.
A DHSC spokesperson told the outlet: “We remain committed to upgrading all of the hospitals we previously announced where they continue to show benefit for patients, and are currently on track for construction to begin in 2023-24.” Due 29 with 48 projects under construction.”
But Sarah Walter of industry group the NHS Confederation criticized “more than 10 years of under-investment” in the hospital buildings, which had been left to “crumble in a state of disrepair”.
,[HSJ’s] The research highlights the problems leaders are facing in accessing capital funding and already agreed projects, leading to a domino effect of an extensive backlog of issues that are yet to be funded, ” He said.
’40 new hospitals’
The BBC reports another recent – and arguably more famous – hospital construction project has largely failed to get off the ground.
Back in 2019, then-prime minister Boris Johnson announced the government would build 40 new hospitals by 2030: an ambitious plan that has been controversial for years.
Critics argue that many of the planned ‘new hospitals’ are actually reconstructions or extensions of existing hospital sites.
in February, Guardian It was learned that only 10 projects had obtained planning permission. Now, the BBC has revealed that production has just begun on Seven.
The six hospital construction was originally expected to be finished by 2025. But, the chief medical officer of one of these trusts now said he does not expect it to end until at least 2027.
The Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust near London have several major building issues that get in the way of the hospital’s daily activities.
Chief Medical Officer Ruth Charlton, who met a BBC reporter outside a condemned ward with a “crumbling foundation”, told the BBC: “I am disappointed on behalf of our patients, their families or the staff that they are being treated like this Can’t afford health care For the convenience that I want my family to have health care.
Problems such as leaks and unsuitable building materials – including a type of concrete that has caused a handful of hospitals to collapse – mean care at many facilities faces regular interruptions. The cost of maintenance in these hospitals has also increased significantly in recent years.
“We are committed to providing all 40 new hospitals by 2030, which is part of the biggest hospital building program in a generation,” a Department of Health and Social Care official told the BBC.
Despite the plan being announced four years ago, some of the 40 plans have yet to be confirmed as leaders consider bids from a number of hospital trusts. And the longer it takes to allocate and distribute funding, the more expensive planned projects get.
Industry groups have urged the government to expedite funding decisions.
Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents the trusts, called on the government to provide clarity as soon as possible.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that there was a dire need for the country’s hospitals to “make progress … and to make decisions on how to deal with chronically outdated infrastructure”.