Government reveals twenty hospitals set for additional investment
The government has revealed the twenty hospitals in England which are to be boosted by an extra £850 million of investment into new equipment and facilities.
The spending pledges made by new prime minister Boris Johnson into the NHS will total £1.8 billion.
The £850 million will be spread out over five years, with the £1 billion remaining going toward renovating hospital facilities this year.
Johnson’s new investments will come on top of the extra £20 billion a year going toward the NHS by the year 2023, which Theresa May had pledged back in 2018 during her tenure as prime minister.
The prime minister is set to formally reveal the plans at a hospital in Lincolnshire this week and he said ahead of the announcement that the investment will mean “more beds, new wards and extra life-saving equipment”.
NHS England leader Simon Stevens has said the pledge is a welcome one and is a “significant start” toward the investment that the NHS needs.
Stevens said: "The concrete steps being set out this week will mean investment flows directly to frontline services, providing new clinics and wards”.
However, the investment is equal to less than one per cent of the NHS annual budget and the Health Foundation charity has said that it may only prove to be a “drop in the ocean” after years of cutbacks overseen by the Conservatives.
Health secretary Matt Hancock is expected to hand another boost to the sector in the week with pension changes in the pipeline, geared toward raising the number of NHS staff members.
New rules on NHS pensions had barred senior doctors from being able to work extra hours to reduce waiting lists because extra taxes associated with additional shifts meant they simply could not afford to do so.
Johnson himself has reiterated his desire to deliver on the promises of the EU referendum of 2016 as well as the result and was keen to fulfill the pledges made to the NHS.
These pledges have come under particular scrutiny following criticism of a claim by the Vote Leave campaign back in 2016. The claim, emblazoned on a campaign bus, read that £350 million a week goes from the UK to the EU and that these funds could be redirected to the NHS.
Johnson said: ”It's time to face up to this challenge and make sure the NHS receives the funds it needs, to continue being the best healthcare service in the world”.
Hancock echoed his words, telling the BBC that the NHS is Johnson’s “number one” priority.
According to Hancock, the extra funds have become available for NHS investment in 2019 due to a growing economy this year.
However, there is scepticism within the Labour party as to where the resources from the new investment have originated.
Speaking to BBC Radio Four, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth suggested the funds may have come from money previously pledged to hospitals for implementing cost-cutting measures.
Ashworth also said that a no-deal Brexit would be disastrous for the NHS, particularly with the winter months coming after the October 31 Brexit deadline.
On the other hand, Sally Warren, director of the King's Fund, a health sector think tank, believes the investment will give the NHS tangible "new spending power”, but hinted that the extra pledges may simply be a reverse of cuts that had been previously announced.
Warren said: "At one level yes it is new money. If the Treasury today were not providing this money, NHS trusts would not be able to spend this £1.8 billion.
"But another view is that it is really reversing cuts that trusts were asked to make this year.”
The 20 NHS trusts that will receive investment into new facilities are:
• Luton & Dunstable University Hospital
• Norfolk & Norwich University Hospitals
• Norfolk and Suffolk
• South Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group
• University Hospitals Birmingham
• United Lincolnshire Hospitals
• Wye Valley
• University Hospitals of North Midlands
• Barking, Havering and Redbridge CCGs and North East London
• Croydon Health Services
• South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System
• The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals
• Leeds Teaching Hospitals
• Greater Manchester Mental Health
• Mersey Care
• Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group
• Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care
• Isle of Wight
• Royal Cornwall Hospitals