Building work pending for many of 40 promised hospitals

2 weeks ago 39

NHS operation  siteImage source, Getty Images

By Catherine Burns and Vicki Loader

BBC News

Building enactment is yet to commencement for 33 of the government's 40 promised caller hospitals successful England, the BBC has found.

Most are inactive waiting to perceive what their last fund volition beryllium for the projects with a 2030 deadline. Only 2 are finished and open.

Ministers aimed to person six acceptable for 2025 - but nary of this radical has afloat readying support oregon backing yet.

The authorities insists it remains committed to gathering the targets.

Health leaders accidental they request urgent clarity.

The BBC looked astatine the contented last year and since past determination has been small progress.

When the pledge was announced, successful 2019, determination was immoderate contention astir precisely what counts arsenic a "new hospital".

NHS guidance says it tin scope from an wholly caller gathering connected a caller tract to a large refurbishment oregon alteration.

By October 2020, the committedness was confirmed, with an archetypal fund of £3.7bn.

Of the 40 hospitals connected the list, 8 were projects already planned.

BBC News contacted them all, asking for a advancement report:

  • 33 said they had not started the main gathering enactment yet
  • Five are nether construction
  • Two, the Royal Liverpool and the Northern Centre for Cancer Care, are finished and unfastened to patients

Investment seems to beryllium a factor:

  • Eight said they had afloat funding
  • One infirmary did not privation to answer
  • 31 said they did not yet person the wealth to commencement the halfway gathering enactment but had received immoderate currency to get the task going

One of the six owed to beryllium completed successful 2025 is Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, adjacent London.

Some parts of St Helier's tract look much similar a derelict gathering than a functioning NHS hospital.

A makeshift woody extortion astatine the backmost is held down with sandbags.

One of the 3 intensive-care units has a occupation with ventilation, truthful it tin beryllium utilized lone arsenic a storeroom.

Image source, BBC News

Image caption,

Staff are utilizing a bucket to drawback the drips from the leak successful the ceiling

In another, unit are moving astir a leak.

In winter, it is not antithetic for full corridors to flood.

When we met Chief Medical Officer Ruth Charlton extracurricular a condemned ward, she told us: "It's not harmless to participate - the foundations are crumbling and windows are falling out."

She cannot spot a caller physique happening by 2025. Her "optimistic" estimation is 2027. Ms Charlton would not beryllium drawn connected a realistic conjecture but was blunt astir however bittersweet and frustrated she felt.

"I'm frustrated connected behalf of our patients, their families oregon unit that they can't person healthcare successful the benignant of installation that I would privation my household to person healthcare in," she told us.

As we talk, we tin perceive the dependable of a attraction unit drilling.

The spot says its backlog attraction - to bring buildings and instrumentality up to modular - volition outgo £130m.

'Extremely unlikely'

Across the NHS successful England, backlog-maintenance costs person much than doubled, from £4.7bn successful 2011-12 to £10.2bn successful 2021-22.

In different words, it has go doubly arsenic costly conscionable to support the doors open.

Health deliberation vessel the Nuffield Trust main enforcement Nigel Edwards says the authorities started with a "big and somewhat vague committedness - and it was ne'er wide determination was capable wealth disposable to bash thing similar the standard of operation that they wanted to". And ministers hitting their 2030 people is "extremely unlikely".

"They've underestimated however agelong it takes to alteration the mode they design, build, and program hospitals," helium says.

"It's a large ambition - but I deliberation a spot of realism is present starting to descend in."

'Spend more'

In 2019, Boris Johnson assured voters helium could physique the 40 caller hospitals but lone "because we're moving a beardown economy".

The authorities has ne'er explicitly allocated a fund for this task - but it has undoubtedly go much expensive.

Inflation means prices person gone up sharply, particularly successful construction.

Institute for Financial Studies elder probe economist Ben Zaranko says: "Either the authorities sticks to that pledge and accepts it volition request to walk much connected infirmary gathering oregon it decides it scales backmost the fig and scope of hospitals."

A Department of Health and Social Care authoritative said: "We stay committed to delivering each 40 caller hospitals by 2030 arsenic portion of the biggest hospital-building programme successful a generation."

'Critical level'

The logic present is the New Hospital Programme is processing a caller nationalist attack to gathering these hospitals crossed England - and a modular attack should mean much a accelerated process.

But determination is different - perchance unsafe - complication. Several hospitals crossed England are astatine hazard of collapse, with roofs propped up with scaffolding and posts, due to the fact that they were built utilizing reinforced autoclaved aerated factual (RAAC) - a lightweight factual with bubbles wrong similar "a cocoa Aero bar".

The NHS has identified 34 NHS buildings successful England containing RAAC planks - and it is believed astir 5 request to beryllium dealt with urgently.

But lone a tiny fig of the hospitals with planned caller builds are thought to beryllium affected by RAAC, truthful it would marque consciousness to expect caller RAAC hospitals to beryllium added to the database soon.

Sir Julian Hartley, main enforcement of NHS Providers, which represents trusts, wants clarity, ideally successful the adjacent fewer weeks.

"We are astatine a pivotal moment, a cardinal point, wherever we cannot permission for overmuch longer the standard of deterioration," helium says.

'We request to cognize that if we hold excessively overmuch longer, the standard of the problems successful different hospitals and facilities volition get to a captious level."

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