The prime minister has announced plans for an extra £13b to fund “new” hospitals across England in the next 10 years.
To mark the start of the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Boris Johnson announced that work would begin with a £2.7b cash injection to fund six hospitals over the next five years, with a further 34 hospitals to be built or re-built within a decade.
It was not made immediately clear when the next £10.3b promised to complete the extensive programme would be delivered.
Taken in addition to the extra £33.9b the government have previously committed to the NHS each year by 2023, Johnson described the move as “the largest sum that has ever been invested in the NHS,” which would “transform” the NHS both for patients and staff.
The location of the hospitals have been identified by some as being within known political battlegrounds such as Harlow’s Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust and Watford’s West Hertfordshire Trust.
Whipps Cross Hospital, where the PM was recently confronted by a father whose seven-day old daughter was being treated at the hospital, is also set to benefit from the funding.
Ministers are also providing £100 million in “seed funding” to help 21 trusts develop plans to rebuild or construct 34 hospitals, including up to a dozen community hospitals in Dorset.
Mr Johnson told the Telegraph: “We’re launching the biggest hospital building programme in a generation.
“You will have seen that on the steps of Downing Street I announced 20 new hospital upgrades.
“We’re now following that up with 40 new hospitals we’re going to be doing across the country.
“It’s the biggest programme of hospital building in a generation.”
The three other hospital trusts set to benefit during the first phase of the programme are Epsom and St Helier Trust, University Hospitals of Leicester Trust, and Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock added: “I love the NHS and I’m incredibly excited to be able to launch the largest hospital building plan in a generation, with 40 new hospitals across the country.
“Too many of our hospitals are too old, and this £13 b plan will build new state of the art hospitals, using the best technology, so our brilliant NHS staff have the best possible facilities to provide the best possible care.”
With many hospital bosses speaking out about the increasing decrepit conditions of their buildings the news of the a cash injection was warmly received, however many were quick to point out that new hospitals could exacerbate current issues with filling a huge number of vacant NHS staff positions.
The Royal College of Nursing estimates that there are currently almost 40,000 vacant nursing positions in the UK.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “You can’t trust Boris Johnson with the NHS.
“All his past promises on new cash have been exposed as a con and after years of Tory cuts, hospitals are crumbling, facing a £6b repair bill.”
He said that the NHS was short of some 100,000 staff, and added: “Only Labour has a costed plan to recruit the extra doctors and nurses our health service needs.
“Ministers must now explain if today’s announcement is for completely new projects or ones already planned, what that means for the rest of the NHS capital budget and outline whether existing hospitals or services will close as part of re-configurations and over what timescale.
“Given Boris Johnson’s spin of previous health claims, patients and NHS staff will expect total honesty and clarity today.”