Boris Johnson announces £1.8bn cash boost to upgrade NHS facilities and equipment
The government announced that 20 hospitals will benefit from £850m (€925m) some of which will go towards digital projects.
South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw will use part of its £57.5m (€62.5m) funding towards joining up local services and “therefore improving the use of digital in primary care,” its website states. This will include developing a fully integrated digital service to enable patients to access their health care records and data, support clinical and strategic decision-making and improve system-wide IT services.
Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust will receive £12m (€13m) of funding to create a single laboratory information management system across West Yorkshire and Harrogate. The trust said on social media that the funding “reflects collective priorities to embrace new technology, making the most of the expertise and skills of our teams to improve patient care.”
Johnson also announced a £1bn (€1.08bn) boost to NHS capital spending to allow existing upgrade programmes to proceed and tackle the most urgent infrastructure projects.
WHY IT MATTERS
The funding will go towards addressing the £6bn (€6.52bn) maintenance backlog in NHS trusts, of which more than £3bn (€3.3bn) is considered of high or significant risk.
NHS England chief executive, Simon Stevens said it was “a significant start to the much-needed capital investment so that our nurses, doctors and other NHS staff will be able to care for their patients in modern facilities with state-of-the-art equipment.”
But critics have called the funding inadequate. “Given the scale of underinvestment in NHS buildings, equipment and technology in recent years, this level of funding will only scratch the surface,” said Ben Gershlick, senior economist at the Health Foundation.
THE LARGER TREND
There have also been doubts cast over how much of the cash is ‘new’. Nuffield Trust senior policy analyst, Sally Gainsbury, tweeted it was partly from savings hospitals had accrued by cutting services, which that are being allowed to spend on capital projects.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, confirmed that some of the funding will come from “cash surpluses currently sitting on provider balance sheets”.
ON THE RECORD
Richard Murray, chief executive of The King’s Fund, said “a longer-term investment programme is needed to tackle the £6bn (€6.52bn) NHS maintenance backlog, upgrade GP surgeries that are no longer fit for purpose, and modernise the NHS so it can take advantage of new technology.”
Danny Mortimer, deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation and chief executive of NHS Employers, said the money was “desperately needed” to modernise services. “Spending on NHS buildings, equipment and digital technology is half the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average and woefully inadequate,” he said.