6 August 2019
It has been confirmed by the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson that 20 projects will receive a share of the £850 million of new funding, promised to upgrade outdated facilities and equipment, with four of the projects relating to primary care.
The four projects relating to primary care comprise South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System, which will receive £57.5 million for primary care investment; South Norfolk clinical commissioning group (CCG), receiving £25.2 million to develop and improve primary care services in the area; north east London, Barking, Havering and Redbridge CCGs and North East London NHS Foundation Trust, getting £17 million to develop a new health and wellbeing hub; and NHS Wirral CCG, which has been given £18 million to "improve patient flow" by improving access to its urgent treatment centre.
A further £1 billion increase to NHS capital spending has been unveiled at a Lincolnshire hospital, which will be aimed at "tackling the most urgent infrastructure projects".
NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens said: "This is 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.
The concrete steps being set out this week will mean investment flows directly to frontline services, providing new clinics and wards. As they come on line, as part of our NHS Long Term Plan, patients will benefit from reduced waits for treatment and wider upgrades to the quality of care the health service is able to offer."
The British Medical Association (BMA) welcomed the funding, but warned that it was insufficient to tackle the estimated £6 billion NHS maintenance backlog in hospitals alone. The association warned that further investment to address the "impoverished state" of GP premises should be a priority for Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government.
BMA Chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said GP practice buildings were "increasingly unfit for purpose, frequently unable to accommodate enough patients or health professionals to meet the needs of their local area."
He added: "The announcement of 20 hospital upgrades and £1.8 billion is a step forward. However, it is equally vital that new investment must be directed to address the impoverished state of general practice buildings so that there is increased capacity for GP staff and services, without which the Prime Minister’s ambition to reduce waiting times will not be achievable."
A recent BMA survey found that only half of practices felt their premises were suitable for present needs, while less than a quarter would meet the future needs of a growing population.
Health Foundation Senior Economist Ben Gershlick said: "This extra money risks being little more than a drop in the ocean". He also said it remained to be seen how much of the pledge will amount to new money or whether the intention is to give the go ahead for previously cancelled plans within the existing capital budget.
The BBC has reported that the extra £1 billion for NHS capital spending this year is cash hospitals and other NHS trusts already have but have not been allowed to spend; they earned it last year in incentive payments for cutting costs.