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Lack of investment in NHS hospitals ‘putting lives at risk’

Capital budget is now less than the £6bn backlog maintenance bill

The current climate of restricted NHS capital funding poses a risk to patient safety, NHS trust leaders have warned.

A survey by NHS Providers found that 82% of NHS trust leaders think the lack of investment poses a medium or high risk to patient safety and could undermine plans to transform the NHS.

In addition, 97% are worried about their trust’s requirement for capital investment, 94% are concerned that it is affecting patients’ experience of care and 92% think it is impacting on staff wellbeing and recruitment.

The survey has been launched as part of a new campaign by NHS Providers calling on the government to address the challenge of NHS capital funding in the forthcoming spending round.

The organisation says the Prime Minister’s recent capital announcement can only be considered a first down payment on the NHS’s needs. As a nation, the UK is now spending less than half the amount on health capital as comparable countries.

The NHS’ annual capital budget is now less than its £6bn backlog maintenance bill, meaning that issues like leaking roofs and broken boilers, ligature points in mental health facilities and outdated technology cannot be fully addressed, even before any investment can be made in new buildings and services.

Per head of population, the UK has fewer CT scanners than Slovenia, the Russian Federation, Turkey, and the Czech and Slovak Republics, and less than half the number in Latvia, Greece and Iceland.

Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, said the country needs to rebuild the NHS and give doctors and nurses the tools to create a 21st century health service that patients expect and can be proud of. “We know the government shares our aim of a properly-funded and well-designed system of capital funding, but this support now needs to be translated into urgent action, because the risk to patients is rising every day,” he warned.