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NHS Providers survey: Trust leaders lament lack of investment

Following the release of a new survey by NHS Providers, it has been found more than 160 NHS trust leaders believe the current climate of restricted capital funding poses a medium or high risk to patient safety, and could undermine plans to transform the NHS.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has committed an additional £1.8bn spend in the NHS, which was welcomed by NHS leaders.

However, the survey revealed the scale of the challenge of NHS capital funding that still exists for many trusts, and the direct impact this has on everyone reliant on the health service.

Almost all respondents (97%) said they were worried about their trust’s requirement for capital investment, 94% were concerned it was affecting patients’ experience of care and 92% believed the restricted capital environment was impacting on staff wellbeing and recruitment.

NHS Providers have said the findings also highlight deep and widespread concerns over the impact these capital constraints are having on NHS services and local partners to transform and modernise the care they offer – thereby hampering their abilities to meet the goals of the NHS Long-Term Plan.

The NHS’ annual capital budget has now fallen to less than its £6bn backlog maintenance bill (which is growing by 10% annually), meaning issues like leaking roofs and broken boilers, ligature points in mental health facilities and outdated technology cannot be fully addressed – long before any investment can be made in new buildings and services.

In terms of future technology, as found in researchy by The Health Foundation, the NHS has fewer CT scanners available per head of population than Slovenia, Russia, Turkey or the Czech Republic, and fewer than half the number found in Latvia, Greece and Iceland by the same metric.

Commenting on the survey’s findings, chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, said: ““We need to rebuild our NHS, and give our doctors and nurses the tools to create the 21st century health service that patients expect and that we can all be proud of.”

“We know the Government shares our aim of a properly-funded and well-designed system of capital funding, but this support now needs to be translated into urgent action, because the risk to patients is rising every day.”

NHS Providers has outlined three steps it wants to be seen undertaken by the Government to help ease the situation:

  1. Set a multi-year NHS capital funding settlement
  2. Commit to bringing the NHS’ capital budget into line with comparable countries
  3. Establish an efficient and effective mechanism for prioritising, accessing and spending NHS capital based on need

The survey was launched as part of the new campaign by NHS Providers, calling on the government to address the challenge of NHS capital funding in the forthcoming spending round.


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