More confusion over new hospitals

Following on our recent Lowdown report on the chaos of the New Hospitals Programme (NHP), there are more signs that the organisation supposedly coordinating plans for “40 new hospitals” is mired in confusion and increasingly aware of how badly the whole project has been under-funded.

The HSJ has revealed that controversial NHP assumptions that the new hospitals would need far fewer beds (proposing a reduction of 14%) have now been dropped:

“it is understood that New Hospital Programme is now asking to maintain existing bed numbers in the latest proposal to the Treasury.”

This change could of course be a result of the concerns raised by a critical National Audit Office report last summer, subsequently echoed by the all-party Commons Public Accounts Committee, which warned that the NHS could wind up eventually building hospitals that prove to be too small from day one (like the first wave of PFI hospital projects signed off from 1997, which averaged between 20-40% fewer beds than the hospitals they replaced).

Indeed the NHP assumptions underpinning their “minimum viable product “model could have further reduced the planned capacity of new hospital schemes … after local project teams have in many cases already made their own unrealistic assumptions on how few hospital beds may be needed as and when any new hospitals are finally opened.

Full story in The Lowdown, 31 January 2024