New hospital construction depicting NHS estate and the New Hospital Programme

New Hospital Programme delays costing millions & risking patient safety, warn NHS chiefs

Uncertainties over the New Hospital Programme (NHP) are costing millions of pounds every month and are compounding already stretched budgets, trust leaders have warned.

A year on from the government’s renewed commitment to NHP that will see 40 new hospitals built by 2030, NHS chiefs are concerned that funding doubts and shifting timetables are putting concrete progress at risk.

NHS Providers says that spiralling cost pressures, on-hold building projects and bills to repair deteriorating estates are causing some trusts in NHP to take upwards of £1m a month out of already scarce funds.

Some trust leaders believe that public confidence has been undermined by the delays to NHP, and further warn that crumbling estates and out-of-date equipment are impacting patient care.

NHS Providers has been told by some trust leaders that further delays are only going to further harm patients, demoralise staff and increase taxpayer costs.

One said: "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,” said another.

“That's £200m more today than it would have cost three years ago."

Further delays are not an option and the next government must commit to the current hospital building plan, say trust chiefs.

"Trust leaders and local people want to see the promise of 'new hospitals' honoured,” said NHS Providers’ CEO, Sir Julian Hartley.

He added: "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.”

More information on the latest news on NHP, and the wider NHS estate, will be available at a dedicated online conference hosted by National Health Executive later this year. Register here to make sure you get the latest insight.

Image credit: iStock

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NHE May/June 2024

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