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Billions in Capital Spending Promised by Ministers is Failing to Hit the Frontline

By Kane Shaw, Press Officer

Today the Health Service Journal (HSJ) is reporting that only 3% of the £2.5bn in capital spending allocated by the government since 2017 has been released to the health service.

Capital spending is defined as spending on estate infrastructure. This includes computer information technology,  medical equipment, vehicles such as ambulances, and building maintenance and repairs, as well as research and development.

The findings - a product of HSJ's own research and corroborated by data drawn from the Department for Health and Social Care - has found that over the last two years that only £100m of the £2.5bn has been received by NHS Trusts.

The findings paint a picture of the government's consistently making headline grabbing announcements on capital spending which it then fails to deliver on. One example being a government announcement made in 2017 which claimed that £325m was to be released for capital spending but which after two years has only seen £45m of that money make it to the frontline.

The £2.5bn in question has been allocated through four rounds of bidding, and it has so far approved 143 requests for funding. Yet only 20 of those requests have actually received funding.

The National Health Action Party has previously reported that the government's record on capital spending leaves a lot to be desired. On a number of occasions it has been caught raiding the capital budget in order to prop up frontline care. A practice which it has consistently claimed it would cease doing, and which has now led to a critical deterioration of NHS infrastructure.

In some cases, hospitals have had to deal with the breakdown of CT scanners which they have been unable to replace as a result of cuts to capital spending, as well as having to deal with blocked drains and sewage leaking into clinical facilities. In other cases leaks from ceilings have also gone onto active operating tables, whilst one hospital has had an entire floor collapse due to its being unable to afford to undertake essential maintenance.

Reacting to the news, an NHA Party spokesperson said, "there is no good reason for why NHS Trusts should be operating with outdated equipment and in buildings which are literally falling apart. We are one of the richest nations on earth and the NHS is immensely popular. We could easily fund it if we wanted to.

The crisis facing it is solely down to the political choices that the Conservatives have made since coming into power since 2010. Austerity needs to end and we desperately need a Labour government which will invest in the NHS. The NHAP knows that a general election is coming, and we look forward to working with all progressive parties to unseat every single Tory that has attacked and supported the privatisation of the NHS"