On 2 October last year, we announced 40 new hospitals to be built by 2030 and committed to an open process to confirm a further eight new schemes. Taken together, those 48 schemes should represent the biggest hospital building programme in a generation. As my hon. Friend would expect, my right hon. Friend the new Secretary of State is taking a close interest in the detail of this process, and I hope to be able to offer a further update on the selection process for the next eight hospitals very soon.
Spending hundreds of millions of pounds patching up buildings long past their planned lifespan—such as the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, which currently has 200 safety props holding up the concrete roof—does not represent value for money. What reassurance can my hon. Friend give to the thousands of my constituents who in recent days have signed a petition for a new hospital to replace the QEH that the Government are looking seriously at the urgent and compelling case for a new fit-for-purpose hospital for staff, patients and visitors?
My hon. Friend’s constituents will know that, in him, they have a doughty champion of their cause and a strong advocate for his hospital. He and I have spoken on many occasions, and I recognise the challenges facing the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which he has been very clear about. The spending review 2020 included £4.2 billion this financial year for NHS operational capital investment to allow hospitals to maintain and refurbish their infrastructure, including a ring-fenced £110 million allocation for the most serious and immediate risk posed by reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete. My hon. Friend’s hospital has received just over £20 million of that funding to help to mitigate the most urgent RAAC risk, but he will also have heard me say, without prejudging any announcement my right hon. Friend will make about the criteria for the future eight, that safety will be one of the considerations.