NHS leader brands 'new' hospital pledge 'misleading' but will take 'anything to be honest'

3 July 2022, 13:26

By Tim Dodd

The CEO of the NHS Confederation Matthew Taylor has told Swarbrick on Sunday that the government's 'new' hospital building pledge is "misleading" but that they will take "anything to be honest" because of the state of some of their hospitals.

Boris Johnson's election pledge to build 40 new hospitals by 2030 is facing a review by the Government's official spending watchdog, The National Audit Office (NAO), which is planning a "value for money review" that could consider increasing costs due to spiralling inflation and whether the hospitals will in fact be new.

In guidance sent to NHS trusts last year, the Department of Health and Social Care defined a "new" hospital as a "whole new hospital on a new site or current NHS land", "a major new clinical building on an existing site or a new wing of an existing hospital", or "a major refurbishment and alteration of all but the building frame or main structure".

Tom Swarbrick asked Mr Taylor if the government were "lying" about building 40 'new' hospitals.

"The government has redefined what it means by 'new' hospitals, so whether or not you think they're lying depends on what your categorisation is," he said.

"I think the general public understand a new hospital is a brand new hospital, in those terms it is misleading but to be fair to the government, for a number of years now they have sought to clarify exactly what they mean by this.

"And if you're in the health service, look - a new wing, an upgraded A&E, a hospital that's had dangerous parts of itself repaired. We'll take anything to be honest, because so much of our estate is not in the condition we need it to be in."

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On the government's pledge, Mr Taylor said: "There was a promise of 48 new hospitals. It was initially 40 and then it went up to 48. Then a further promise that six of those hospitals would be completed by 2025. None of those are now going to be completed. And in fact, no work has even started in most cases."

Mr Taylor also said that there are hospitals that are in a "very poor condition", with some suffering from a "particular problem in terms of the concrete in those hospitals".

"There are genuine risks for patients. There're dangers that those hospitals have to close elements of themselves down," he said.

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