NHS battling daily to keep patients safe amid new hospital scheme delays, Trust leaders warn

Millions of pounds every month are being drained from scarce NHS funds due to delays to a government scheme that promised 40 new hospitals in England by 2030. This is according to feedback obtained by NHS Providers.

Spiralling cost pressures, on-hold building projects and the bill for having to patch up deteriorating sites sees some Trusts in the New Hospital Programme (NHP) forking out upwards of £1m a month from under-pressure budgets.

One year on from the government's renewed commitment to build 40 new hospitals by 2030, Trust leaders have warned that, despite some progress, uncertainty over funding and shifting timetables risks putting their promised buildings further out of reach.

Crumbling estates and out-of-date equipment hamper care for patients, staff are becoming more demoralised and public confidence has been undermined by delays to the NHP, Trust leaders say. The Trust leaders involved in the NHP told NHS Providers:

  • "Further delays are only going to introduce further patient harm, disappoint our colleagues and increase costs to the taxpayer."
  • "Our teams are coming in, day in day out to infrastructure that is not fit for purpose. We don't have the facilities to treat patients in the way that any of us aspire to."
  • "In the past three years, we've seen a 25% increase in costs. That's £200m more today than it would have cost three years ago."
  • "Many of the new hospital plans have been around for a decade – we must now be given the opportunity to ensure all the plans align with modern healthcare provision."

Trust leaders are looking to the next government to commit to the current hospital building programme, as any delays caused by going back to the drawing board after the general election would be costly and undermine patient care.

Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive, NHS Providers, said: "Trust leaders and local people want to see the promise of 'new hospitals' honoured. They know these projects can transform services for patients and staff.

"While there has been some welcome progress, the bigger picture is one of delay, indecision and soaring costs which the NHS, taxpayers and patients can ill afford. Trusts urgently need clarity from the government on funding and next steps.

"But this is one part of a much bigger problem about the scale of underinvestment across the NHS estate. More than 100 Trusts applied to join the NHP and the NHS repairs bill is now at a staggering £11.6bn, much of it high risk. We cannot afford to let this problem get worse.

"As we head towards a general election, trust leaders want a cast-iron commitment from all political parties to an NHS infrastructure programme that meets the needs of hospitals, mental health, community and ambulance services. Patients, hard-working NHS staff and taxpayers deserve nothing less."

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