The King's Fund responds to the government's announcement of additional capital funding for NHS hospitals

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Commenting on the government announcement of additional capital funding for NHS hospitals Richard Murray, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, said:

'Today's announcement is very welcome news for the hospitals selected, the staff that work there and the patients that use them. A significant amount of work is needed to bring NHS buildings and equipment up to scratch after years of capital budgets being raided to cover day-to-day running costs.

'On the face of it, the various schemes being pledged by the government certainly sound like substantial investment, but these piecemeal announcements are not the same as having a proper, multi-year capital funding plan. The lack of clarity around how the new schemes have been selected and how the pledges fit within the Department for Health and Social Care's overall financial settlement makes it difficult to tell how generous the government is being.

'Today's announcement focuses on new schemes at acute hospitals but a longer-term investment programme is also needed to tackle the £6 billion NHS maintenance backlog, upgrade GP surgeries that are no longer fit for purpose, and modernise the NHS so it can take advantage of new technology, particularly given the ambitions of the NHS long-term plan to develop facilities in the community.

'As well as shoring up buildings, urgent action is needed to shore up the NHS workforce. Severe staff shortages are the biggest challenge facing the health service, with nearly 100,000 vacancies in NHS trusts. If the government really wants get the best value out of this new capital spending, it will need considering alongside a comprehensive plan to tackle staffing shortages in both the NHS and social care, future plans for public health spending and investment in social care, to help keep people well for as long as possible and out of hospital when they don’t need to be there.'

Notes to editors

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The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all.