Nearly £3 billion has been promised to six NHS hospitals to upgrade their “crumbling infrastructure”.
The government has pledged to spend billions on improving the health services “crumbling” buildings as part of a new Health Infrastructure Plan due to be published later today.
During the start of the Conservative party conference yesterday, the Government pledged to spend £2.7 billion on upgrading the facilities of six large NHS hospitals by 2025.
Subject to business case approval, a further 21 hospitals will be given £100 million to further develop their current services between 2025 and 2030.
In total, the programme will involve more than 40 hospital building projects.
The Government claims the new investment will allow the NHS to build “world-class facilities for patients and staff for the long term”, however healthcare leaders have warned that the additional funding is not enough.
‘Falls well short’.
Experts have highlighted that the promised investments fail to address the issue of chronic underinvestment in the health services workforce.
Anita Charlesworth, Head of research and economics at the Health Foundation, said: “While this money is very much needed following years of underinvestment in the NHS’s crumbling infrastructure, it falls well short of the scale of the challenge.
“With a backlog of maintenance and repairs that amounts to more than £6bn – much of which threatens patient’s safety – and dozens of NHS trust upgrade projects that have been delayed or cancelled, the figure needed is closer to £3bn each year for the next 5 years.”
Adding; “the NHS is facing severe staff shortages with over 100,000 vacancies. Without the staff to operate them, buildings and scanners alone will not address the severe capacity issues that the health service currently faces.”
‘100,000 unfilled vacancies’.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Council Chair of the British Medical Association, said; “With fewer hospital beds per population compared to other European countries, and a backlog in maintenance and repairs totalling billions, this will clearly not be enough to deliver what is needed.
“The problem is not limited to hospitals as investment in primary and social care is just as important.
“As doctors we know that hospitals are only as good as the staff who run them and given the scale of the workforce crisis in the NHS, with 100,000 unfilled vacancies, the Government must understand the importance of addressing this if they are to successfully deliver their plan.
“In times of such political uncertainty and with Brexit looming, it is important that any investment promised is delivered with a view not just of the immediate short-term but the long-term sustainability of the NHS that places patients at the core of its motivation.”