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New Hospitals

Volume 701: debated on Tuesday 19 October 2021

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his question. In October 2020 the Prime Minister announced details of 40 schemes that we will be taking forward in line with our manifesto commitment to deliver 40 new hospitals by 2030, supported by an initial £3.7 billion investment for them.

This seems to be the crumbling hospital corner of the House, as we have already heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Nick Fletcher) about his concerns. In Norfolk, we have the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which is physically crumbling, and the ceilings and roofs are held up by wooden staves and acrow props. Although it is not in my constituency—it is in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for North West Norfolk (James Wild)—it serves the entire county, and eight Members of Parliament have written in support of the bid. Could I invite the Minister to visit the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to see for himself the state of its structure?

I am very grateful to my hon. Friend, who quite rightly recognises and highlights the work that my hon. Friend the Member for North West Norfolk (James Wild) has put into championing the cause of this hospital. I understand that it has put in an application to be one of the next eight hospitals, which will of course be considered very carefully. I am very happy to visit Norfolk as well, but I would also highlight that one of the key issues at this particular hospital is the existence of RAAC—reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete—planks, for which we have already provided £20 million for remedial works this year.

As well as building new hospitals, the Government appear to be downgrading existing ones. Will the Minister meet me to discuss the downgrading of Walsall Manor, so that I can explain it to constituents and whistleblowers?

I am always happy to meet the right hon. Lady. However, I would say to her that decisions such as that are NHS-made, clinical decisions. That is the framework through which they should be viewed, but I am always happy to meet her.

Will the Minister agree to meet me in Hyndburn to discuss plans for Accrington Victoria Hospital, making sure we are utilising our fantastic and historic building to its full potential?

The short answer is that it looks as though I may be going on tour in the coming months, and I am delighted to accept my hon. Friend’s kind invitation.

With a £9 billion maintenance backlog, examples of which we have heard this morning, it is truly mind-boggling that the Department’s priority has been to try to change the definition of what a new hospital is, so let us cut out the spin on 48 new hospitals. Can the Minister tell us, of those 48—if we take out all the projects under way before the announcement was made, and those that are new wings, extensions or refurbishments of existing buildings—exactly how many new hospitals will be built by 2030? It is not 48, is it?

I am grateful, I think, to the shadow Minister. We have a very clear definition of a new hospital, which I believe is shared by the public. It also leans on VAT notice 708 and its definition of what constitutes a new build or a refurbishment. To his specific question, we are committed to our manifesto commitment of 40 new hospitals by 2030—we build, the Opposition complain.