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NHS Trusts: Capital Spending

Volume 702: debated on Tuesday 2 November 2021

14. What steps his Department is taking with the Department of Health and Social Care to help ensure scrutiny of NHS trusts’ capital spending. (903993)

It has just been announced, through the spending review, that the NHS will receive: over £12 billion of capital funding for investment in and maintenance of the NHS estate; £5.9 billion for diagnostics, technology and elective recovery; £4.2 billion for at least 70 hospital upgrades and 40 new hospitals; and funding to eradicate mental health dormitories. That is on top of £500 million of additional capital funding given for the second half of this year to help tackle the elective backlog. It means that NHS capital budgets will have increased by over 8% year-on-year above inflation since the start of the Parliament.

I welcome the funding for the new hospitals programme, and highlight to the Minister that the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, with 200 props holding up its structurally deficient roof, has a compelling case to be one of the new schemes. Given the inevitable need to rebuild the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, does my right hon. Friend agree that it is far better to have a properly funded new hospital using modern methods of construction, rather than its being an unplanned cost, with emergency funding constantly being needed to prop up its failing building?

I welcome my hon. Friend’s clear and obvious passion for improving the lives of his constituents. As well as committing £3.7 billion to make progress on the 40 hospitals named last year, the Government have committed to fund a further eight new hospitals by 2030. The process for selecting those eight is being led by the Department of Health and Social Care and will be based on a range of criteria, including clinical need and deliverability. I encourage my hon. Friend to engage in that process, but I am happy to have any further discussions that would be useful.

I thank the excellent Front Bench team for a brilliant Budget which benefited every member of my constituency. I know the Treasury team cares passionately about delivering value for taxpayers. When it comes to significant capital spend for NHS projects, such as the Shropshire plan to build a state of the art critical care unit on the Welsh border, where costs have escalated from £312 million to £560 million, will my right hon. Friend say who is responsible for ensuring value for money and how they are held to account? Can he also assure me that no more cash will be allocated to that project until a ringfenced sum is allocated for accident and emergency care in Telford?

I thank my hon. Friend for her kind words about the Budget. I agree: it was a major fiscal event, one which puts the country on a strong path for continued growth. She is absolutely right to highlight the importance of delivering value for money. That is certainly something I take very seriously. It is, obviously, a shared responsibility across Government. In terms of the specific concerns she raises about that case, I urge her to speak to colleagues at the Department of Health and Social Care about the right hospital configuration for Shropshire. Again, I am always happy to have any conversations that are useful.

I am pleased that the Minister mentioned the opportunity to provide eight additional rebuilds of hospitals, because Stepping Hill Hospital has served the people of Stockport and surrounding areas well since it was built in 1905. However, all hospital buildings reach the end of their useful lives and, with a £40 million maintenance bill, that one certainly has. The council and the foundation trust have submitted ambitious plans to rebuild the hospital on a new site in the town centre, moving it to a more accessible location with state-of-the-art facilities and helping to regenerate the centre of Stockport. This is a win-win, so will the Minister look favourably on these plans?

The hon. Gentleman makes a passionate case for Stockport and the health facilities there. Obviously, we will always look at these proposals seriously, as will Departments including the Department of Health and Social Care. Although I cannot comment on this proposal specifically, not having had sight of it in detail, I am always happy to have conversations with him.