NHS capital budget must double to meet demand

  • 29th March 2024

NHS capital budgets must double to ensure the delivery of fast and more-effective patient care, according to analysis from the NHS Confederation.

The organisation’s Investing to Save: The Capital Requirement for a More Sustainable NHS in England report claims a further £6.4bn of capital funding must be committed through all three years of the next Spending Review – totalling £14.1bn a year – in order to address the mounting backlog maintenance crisis across the NHS estate.

The money will also help with the refurbishment of dilapidated buildings, upgrading of equipment, and an increase in staff productivity, the report states.

Chief executive of the NHS Confederation, Matthew Taylor, said: “Some of our members have parts of their estate that are barely fit for the 19th Century, let alone the 21st, so any future Secretary of State for Health and Social Care must make the physical and digital condition of the NHS a priority if the health service is to reduce backlogs and get productivity levels to where the government want them to be.

“Lack of capital across different care settings, covering digital and physical infrastructure and mental and physical health, is clearly not just leading to missed opportunities to improve productivity, but actively undermining it and causing patient safety issues.

“Health leaders across England have endless ideas about how capital funding could drive large productivity increases.”

He added: “Equipping staff with the right tools, and allowing them to operate in safe, modern, optimised environments will improve efficiency, meaning an increase to the capital budget will help limit the need for growth in revenue spend, relieve pressure on wider NHS finances and services, and put the NHS on the path to longer-term financial sustainability.

“This will require a significant increase to the NHS capital budget to make up for years of underresourcing and repeated raids on capital that has left much of the estate broken.

“Based on the assessment of health leaders, this will need to be an increase of £6.4bn to take the capital budget to £14.1bn for each year of the next spending review in order to fully address the repairs backlog and realise some of the innovative transformation projects which have previously fallen by the wayside.

“The next government must grasp the nettle.”

Also identified in the report is the fact that health leaders across the country have ideas on how care can be improved, however, these innovative plans are being delayed due to a lack of funding.

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