40 New Hospitals - The Government’s Broken Promise

16 Mar 2024
Photo of hospital bed

It was a grand promise - a Boris Johnson classic - “We’re going to build 40 new hospitals over the next decade”. The image was clear for all: 40 brand new, shiny, state-of-the-art hospitals - treating patients, caring for our loved ones, saving lives - signed, sealed and delivered by 2030.

Then the promise started to unravel - another Boris Johnson classic. Well the hospitals wouldn’t all be ‘new’, they might just be refurbishments. And when we say ‘a hospital’, we don’t actually mean a whole hospital, it might just be a new building. Oh, and when we say ‘over the next decade’, we don’t actually mean there’ll be a new hospital by 2030.

This broken failure, this failure to deliver, has continued with three Conservative Prime Ministers, six Conservative Health Secretaries. The National Audit Office has warned that the Government will not meet its manifesto pledge. Only 10 out of the 40 new hospitals have received full planning permission and several projects have no planning permission at all. The Government has not even allocated enough funding to ensure all the hospitals in the New Hospitals Programme will be built.

Where’s Eastbourne’s new hospital?

My town of Eastbourne was promised a new hospital by 2030 by these Conservatives - they have broken their promise.

This is personal for me - I was born in the DGH and received paediatric care there as a child. My mum used to work on the maternity ward back in the day, and had my brothers and sisters there as well.

Over the years, Eastbourne has lost core services and staff to Hastings, nearly an hour away. Our maternity service was downgraded and last year was closed for births 1 in 4 days.

The promise of a brand new hospital for Eastbourne gave local people hope that it could be a stepping stone to bringing back services to our area.

I’m still fighting to protect and improve our services though. Campaigning to stop more staff and services moving to Hastings. And fighting every day to protect DGH maternity and paediatric services for local families.

Crumbling buildings

The RAAC scandal shone a spotlight on how important it is to take action fixing our hospital buildings.

The NHS estate is deteriorating and now has an £11.6bn backlog of maintenance, almost half of which relate to high or significant risk repairs.

Last year, a Liberal Democrat investigation uncovered chemical leaks in critical wards and a frightening number of faulty fire alarms. Another investigation exposed a staggering 456 sewage leaks in England’s hospitals.

It is a national scandal that patients are being treated in hospitals with roofs and floors at risk of collapse.

Tackling the problem

The Liberal Democrats want to tackle this problem head on to get our NHS back on its feet. That’s why, today, we have passed new policy on fixing England’s crumbling hospitals:

  • Urgently release the funds that the Government has already committed, so that construction can start as soon as possible.
  • Commit to a 10-year major capital programme to give long-term certainty to delivering new or replaced hospital buildings.
  • Review outdated government finance rules which prevent NHS Trusts from investing the funds they’ve raised into their buildings.
  • Take action to fix crumbling hospitals and replace RAAC.
  • Publish a plan to recruit and retain a skilled workforce to carry out the NHP.
  • Work with relevant NHS organisations to create a package of support and advice for hospitals that are in a poor condition but are not a top priority to be fixed, to help address the additional problems affecting patients and staff.

Read our new policy

The Conservative party manifesto was not worth the paper it was written on. People in communities like mine, who were promised a new hospital, feel betrayed. Patients being treated in crumbling wards and nurses working in dangerous conditions.

We urgently need to implement our plan to fix our crumbling NHS hospitals. Without it, more patients will suffer unnecessarily at the hands of this Conservative government’s neglect of our health service.



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