Responding to the National Audit Office (NAO) report on the New Hospitals Programme, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation said:
“Members will be concerned by the delays to many parts of the New Hospitals Programme, as this report from the National Audit Office reveals. Especially as some trusts are having to find additional money to tackle ongoing maintenance issues such as new roofs, when they were led to believe they would be moving to a new site or given funds to build something new as part of this programme. This is adding more pressure on finance departments whose budgets are already stretched to the limit.
“Our members tell us that the maintenance backlog continues to be a significant challenge, impacting productivity and their ability to deliver the transformation required, hindering their progress in reducing the elective backlog and rendering some areas as unusable.
“Leaders already knew that the £20bn of investment that was earmarked for this programme fell short of its expected £35bn cost and were left deeply frustrated after eight of the promised new hospitals were rowed back on. They will be given even more cause for concern by this report highlighting the lack of transparency around decision making, and that DHSC has not yet settled on its new centralised, standardised approach to hospital construction.
“We agree with the recommendations in the NAO report and urge the government to boost capital investment fully. We know how far behind the NHS has fallen, with the UK lagging behind counterparts in the number of CT machines, MRI scanners, and beds it has. This is to say nothing of the state of the NHS’s estate, which currently has a repair backlog of around £10.2bn. A comprehensive and long-term capital investment plan is needed, and work needs to start ahead of what is likely to be another tough winter for the NHS.”