Revealed: The capital projects deferred in ‘undignified scramble’

HSJ has obtained details of dozens of NHS capital schemes that were deferred from 2015-16, as part of a bid to stop the Department of Health breaching its budget.

The investigation reveals that, across 84 trusts which provided information, more than £270m of deferred spending was identified in response to national officials’ plea for “capital to revenue transfers”, to help boost day-to-day spending budgets.

Much of the deferred spending relates to projects such as building maintenance, IT infrastructure and the purchase of new equipment.

In their formal responses to HSJ, most trusts said the capital projects covered had already been delayed for other reasons – regardless of the plea for transfers – so timescales for delivery had not been impacted.

However, some trust executive directors speaking anonymously told HSJ they were concerned that trusts may struggle to get the capital funds back in 2016-17, due to increasingly tight restrictions on capital funds. They warned this could put key projects in jeopardy.

One executive added: “This has been an undignified scramble from the DH and regulators to hit the departmental expenditure limit.”

Full story in the HSJ 3 May 2016