What ever happened to the Tory promise to build 40 new hospitals?

Well it turns out it’s been yet another broken pledge.

The Tories have broken a number of promises when it comes to the NHS. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was forced to admit that he had failed in his pledge to cut NHS waiting lists.

The Prime Minister tried to blame the pandemic and NHS workers going on strike over low pay and poor conditions for why waiting lists have been increasing under the Tories, conveniently overlooking the fact that the total number of people waiting for treatment was at a record level even before the pandemic, and had been rising every year since 2013.

In fact, the waiting list for treatment has been growing for much of the last decade, passing three million in 2014, four million in 2017, five million in 2021 and seven million in 2022. In February 2020, the last full month before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the waiting list stood at 4.57 million.

Yet it’s not the only broken Tory pledge when it comes to the NHS. Remember the Tories’ promise to build 40 new hospitals in their 2019 manifesto under Boris Johnson.

What ever happened to that promise?

Well it turns out it’s been yet another broken pledge.

In November last year, the Public Accounts Committee warned that it had no confidence that the Government will deliver the new hospitals it promised.

The committee warned that the government is highly unlikely even to construct the 32 new hospitals that it is now aiming to complete by 2030, after the commitment to build all 40 by then was abandoned in May last year.

Furthermore, analysis by the National Audit Office found that of the 32 projects announced in 2020 that are being taken forward, just 11 qualify as “whole new hospitals”.

It said 20 amounted to rebuilds of existing hospitals, erecting major new buildings at existing sites or a major redevelopment of existing buildings.

The PAC committee also said that even after the target number of new hospitals was reduced to 32 in July, even getting that far is “highly unlikely.”

To make matters worse for the government, in order to build the revised target of 32 hospitals, it implemented a “new standard hospital design” – standardised buildings that could then be constructed around the country in a bid to cut costs.

However, the PAC reported that the latest version of the hospital plan is “very likely to produce hospitals that are too small”.

Despite having to scale back on the target number of 40 hospitals and despite all the evidence pointing to how unlikely it is the government will meet its target, the Tories continue to insist that they will deliver 40 new hospitals.

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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