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NHS captial budgets 'MUST DOUBLE' to £14.1BN

NHS capital budgets must double to £14.1bn if it is to clear the building repairs backlog and overhaul the estate to enable greater productivity and faster patient care, according to a new report.

The report, ‘Investing to save: The capital requirement for a more sustainable NHS in England ‘- carried out by the NHS Confederation - looks at where the NHS is using capital investment to drive productivity, and makes the case for greater funding if the NHS is to meet stretching productivity targets of 2 per cent by 2030. The report also outlines examples of capital projects which have been transformational for patient care and productivity, along with numerous case studies of proposed cost-effective, forward-thinking developments which have been delayed, hindered or scrapped due to the lack of initial funding needed to get them off the ground.

NHS leaders said that “increasing capital funding is their top financial priority ahead of the next election, alongside reform of how the capital regime operates”. This amounts to £6.4bn in all three years of the next Spending Review to help the NHS address its £10.2bn maintenance backlog, refurbish dilapidated buildings, upgrade equipment and turbocharge staff productivity. That would take annual NHS capital spending to £14.1bn per year, compared to the current level of £7.7 bn. The consequence otherwise will be long waiting lists and delayed care for patients, the report revealed. New analysis from the NHS Confederation sets out the impact that low levels of capital investment have had over the last decade, including the effect on productivity, and makes the case for greater funding if the NHS is to meet stretching productivity targets of 2per cent by 2030. Yet capital budgets continue to be raided, with the latest raid being used to plug the rising deficits in the day-to-day NHS budget caused by strike action and other cost pressures.

This was outlined in NHS England’s letter to NHS chief executives on 8 November, following the outcome of negotiations between the Treasury and Department of Health and Social Care ahead of the Autumn Statement. Leaders across the country have many ideas for how to transform care and increase productivity should funding allow. However, issues in accessing capital funding, with processes often labyrinthine in nature, and lack of funds are delaying innovative plans for transformation. But the NHS still doesn’t have a capital strategy and the next government must boost capital funding if the health service is to meet stretching productivity targets and become more financially sustainable, according to the report.

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