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Health Politics

Hunt announces funding for new NHS buildings, wards and beds

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The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care announced an additional £750 million in NHS funding for new buildings, wards and beds.

Forty NHS hospitals and community services will get a total of £760 million to modernise and transform their buildings and services in the year of the NHS’s 70th birthday.

The funding was announced today by Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Jeremy Hunt. It is the biggest investment of its kind in the NHS in over 10 years. The NHS will spend the money on programmes to meet local demand, such as new urgent care centres and refurbishing mental health facilities.

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The Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin sustainability and transformation partnership (STP) will receive £300 million to transform local hospital services. It proposes to use the funding to develop an emergency care site and a separate planned care site, with 24-hour urgent care centres at both sites.

The remainder of the money will be awarded to 39 smaller projects, including:

  • £6 million to upgrade services of 8 trusts across Yorkshire
  • £8 million for a new health and wellbeing centre to join up local NHS services in Kent
  • £13 million for 2 new urgent care centres in Newton Abbot and Torquay, and refurbishment of Torbay Hospital’s A&E department
  • several million pounds for local NHS services in London, including one project worth up to £11 million

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Jeremy Hunt said: “As the NHS approaches its 70th birthday, we are backing it with one of the largest capital programmes in NHS history. As well as a whole new emergency care development in Shropshire, we are backing local NHS services with new buildings, beds and wards so that staff who have been working incredibly hard over winter can have confidence we are expanding capacity for the future.

“Further major projects are also under consideration across the country and we intend to announce one large scale scheme the size of the Shrewsbury and Telford plan every year going forward based on high-quality plans coming forward from local NHS leaders”.

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£200 million NHS training budget could be lost to the private sector

Around a third of NHS trusts are paying apprentices just £3.90 per hour – the statutory minimum rate.

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NHS hospital corridor

Money paid by NHS trusts is now being “clawed back by the government”.

More than £200m is lying unused by cash-strapped health trusts in England because of restrictions in the Government’s apprenticeship levy scheme.

The restrictions mean that money from the levy can only be used to fund training costs and not salaries – meaning already cash-strapped organisations are unable to recruit additional staff.

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Around a third of NHS trusts are paying apprentices just £3.90 per hour – the statutory minimum rate.

According to the UNISON report, It Doesn’t Add Up, 79% of the levy money is yet to be used and warns that if this trend continues substantial NHS funding will be lost.

Levy money not spent after two years is reallocated to a central Government pot and used to subsidise apprenticeships for smaller employers – who don’t have to pay into the levy. This means cash from NHS budgets being diverted into the private sector.

Millions sat idle while there are 100,000 vacancies.

UNISON is now calling for the Government to change the rules so levy funding can also be spent on apprentice salaries and the wages of staff employed to cover for apprentices when they are training.

They have also suggested that the money could be used to fund a new extensive apprenticeship programme across the entire NHS for nursing and all the other health professions experiencing shortages.

Sara Gorton, Head of Health at UNISON, said; “Hundreds of millions of pounds are sitting idle at a time when budgets are stretched and there are 100,000 vacancies across the NHS,”.

“There are real concerns about the standard of training apprentices receive, with many carrying out administrative and clinical support roles for peanuts. Ministers must reform the system to ensure money allocated to the health service stays within the NHS and invest properly to ensure apprenticeships play a full role in solving the growing staffing crisis.”

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Health Politics

Bill calling for safer staffing legislation put before Parliament

There are now 43,671 vacant nursing posts throughout the NHS in England alone.

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Maria Caulfield

The Bill will seek to “establish legally enforceable nursing staffing levels in the NHS in England.”

Maria Caulfield, Conservative MP for Lewes, nurse and member of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), today brought a Bill designed “to establish legally enforceable nursing staffing levels in the NHS in England.”

The Bill comes as nursing vacancy rates hit a record high with 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone – leaving 12% of full-time nursing posts unfilled.

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In a report released today titled ‘Standing up for patient and public safety’, the RCN highlights the impact the nursing staffing crisis is having on patient safety.

Scotland recently secured new legislation on safe staffing and a nurse staffing law was introduced in Wales in 2016.

‘No one is responsible and no one is accountable’.

Ms Cauldfield said; “There is increasing evidence that the right number of qualified nurses can improve patient outcomes in terms of mortality, morbidity and quality of care and that conversely, an insufficient number of nurses can have a potentially life-threatening effect for patients.”

Presenting the primary aim of the Bill as; “to make the Government accountable for nursing levels in England, as currently no one is accountable for nursing levels in England and that is why we have such a high nursing vacancy rate.”

Before adding that the other aims of the Bill were ensuring the NHS has “a fully costed workforce strategy and nursing numbers” alongside ensuring training and development for nurses throughout their career.

Cauldfield controversially voted against scrapping the pay cap for NHS workers in 2017.

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