New analysis from the NHS Confederation has set out the impact that low levels of capital investment has had over the last decade. The NHS won't be able to deliver faster and more productive patient care unless capital budgets are nearly doubled to at least £14.1 billion, according to the analysis.
NHS leaders say the next government must boost capital funding by an extra £6.4bn in all three years of the next Spending Review to help the NHS address its £10.2 billion maintenance backlog, refurbish dilapidated buildingsupgrade equipment and turbocharge staff productivity. That would take annual NHS capital spending to £14.1 billion per year, compared to the current level of £7.7 billion. The consequence otherwise will be long waiting lists and delayed care for patients.
Local NHS leaders have told the NHS Confederation that investment in capital spending is their priority for any additional spending on the NHS after the next general election, and that underinvestment has been the number one issue holding back their progress towards greater productivity.
New analysis from the NHS Confederation sets out the impact that low levels of capital investment have had over the last decade, including the effect on productivity, and makes the case for greater funding if the NHS is to meet stretching productivity targets of 2 per cent by 2030.
Yet capital budgets "continue to be raided", according to the NHS Confederation, with the latest "raid" being used to plug the rising deficits in the day-to-day NHS budget caused by strike action and other cost pressures. This was outlined in NHS England’s letter to NHS chief executives on 8 November, following the outcome of negotiations between the Treasury and Department of Health and Social Care ahead of the Autumn Statement.
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation 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.
“Equipping staff with the right tools, and allowing them to operate in safe, modern, optimised environments will improve efficiency, meaning that 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 under-resourcing 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.”
The report, ‘Investing to save: The capital requirement for a more sustainable NHS in England’, looks at where the NHS is using capital investment to drive productivity, and makes the case for greater funding if the NHS is to meet stretching productivity targets of 2 per cent by 2030.
The report also outlines examples of capital projects which have been transformational for patient care and productivity, along with numerous case studies of proposed cost-effective, forward-thinking developments which have been delayed, hindered or scrapped due to the lack of initial funding needed to get them off the ground.