Six schemes promised to open by 2025 still without full funding or planning consent, BBC reports

Construction work is yet to start on all but seven of the 40 hospitals the government said it would build by 2030, according to reports.

Only two hospitals on the new hospitals programme are finished and open and six, which ministers promised to open by 2025, have still not received planning permission or funding, the BBC has reported.

The government told the broadcaster that it remains committed to the targets and is developing a “new national approach” to building hospitals so they can be completed faster and ensure value for money. It added that ministers continue to work closely with all NHS trusts on their plans.

The programme was announced by Boris Johnson in September 2019 in the lead-up to the general election in December of that year.

Perkins hospital

Perkins & Will’s design for the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, one of the six hospitals which were scheduled to open by 2025

Described by then health secretary Matt Hancock as the “largest hospital building programme in a generation”, it included an initial £2.8bn investment to kickstart six large hospital schemes aiming to open by 2025.

A further 21 schemes were provided with seed funding to develop their business cases, with a window of 2025 to 2030 given for their completion.

Out of the total of 40 schemes planned as part of the programme, the BBC said 31 said they had received some seed funding but did not yet have the support to start building work.

Eight hospitals said they had received full funding, one hospital did not respond and five said they were currently under construction.

Nigel Edwards, chief executive of health think tank the Nuffield Trust, told the BBC that it was “extremely unlikely” that ministers would hit their 2030 target.

The government started with a “big and slightly vague promise - and it was never clear there was enough money available to do anything like the scale of construction that they wanted to,” he said.

“They’ve underestimated how long it takes to change the way they design, build, and plan hospitals.”

Maintenance costs for existing hospitals have also more than doubled in the past decade, from £4.7bn to fix the backlog in 2011-2012 to £10.2bn in 2021-2022.

Health minister Maria Caulfield admitted last year that dozens of hospital buildings in England were at risk of imminent collapse because they contained decaying lightweight concrete.

The use of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete, a material widely used up until the 1980s but which has now passed its 30-year lifespan, in 34 hospitals was described as a “ticking timebomb” by the boss of the Queen Elizabeth hospital in King’s Lynn.