Government plans 40 new hospitals and a new mental health services pilot

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to a patient during a visit to Whipps Cross University Hospital, east London

The government has pledged £13bn for 40 new hospitals across England in the next decade.

The plans will begin with a £2.7bn cash injection for six hospitals over the next five years.

A new approach to NHS mental health treatment is also to be trialled in 12 areas of England – with housing and job support alongside psychological help.

The government says £70m is being invested and the NHS will build more ties with charities and local councils.

About 1,000 extra specialist staff will be recruited in 12 pilot sites, with expertise in a range of mental health issues, the government says.

‘State-of-the-art hospitals’

Under plans drawn up by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, £13bn will be spent on creating “new” hospitals – either with entirely new buildings or revamping existing structures to improve facilities.

Mr Hancock said it was “the largest sum that has ever been invested in the NHS” after the extra £33.9bn the government has committed to spend on the health service up to 2023.

The six hospitals to benefit from the £2.7bn in funding are:

  • Whipps Cross Hospital, in Leytonstone, east London
  • Epsom and St Helier Trust
  • West Hertfordshire Trust
  • Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust
  • University Hospitals of Leicester Trust
  • Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust.

A further 34 new hospitals will receive £100m in initial funding to start improvement projects, including Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham and the North Manchester General Hospital.

The remaining projects, including up to a dozen smaller rural hospitals, would be completed over the second half of the next decade.

The plans also include £200m for replacing MRI, CT scanners and breast cancer screening equipment.

The flurry of health announcements show the Tories feel they have a good story to tell on the NHS.

Last year they unveiled a five-year funding settlement for the health service in England.

The plans for mental health provide more detail on where that money is going to go.

It recognises that supporting people with mental health problems is also about helping people remain in work, find work or access benefits alongside any counselling or medication they may be taking.

The investment in buildings – the second announcement in this area in two months – addresses a recently neglected area of the health service.

But what is still not clear is just how much is being invested overall in the coming years.

Around £7bn is being spent this year – and if that does not increase significantly hospitals will argue they will struggle to catch up with the backlog in repairs and maintenance alongside building these shiny new buildings and units.

The government said there would be an extra £2.3bn a year by 2023-4 to improve mental health care and £975m of funding was earmarked to provide community mental health provision.

The 2.3bn figure was announced when the government outlined its future priorities for the NHS in January under the NHS Long Term Plan. The 12 pilot areas will be funded from this pot.

Mental health minister Nadine Dorries said the plans for a new approach to mental health treatment and £70m of investment in pilot areas would begin a “step-change” in provision.

The pilot areas will cover services in the Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership, Frimley Health and Care, and Surrey Heartlands; providers for Cambridge and Peterborough; Hertfordshire and West Essex; north-west London; north-east London; Herefordshire and Worcestershire; Lincolnshire; South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw; Cheshire and Merseyside, and Somerset.

Ministers say the plans will involve a range of mental health issues, including eating disorders and alcohol addiction, psychosis and bipolar disorder.

Speaking ahead of the start of the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Ms Dorries added: “We know there are many causes behind mental illness – including significant life changes, problems at work or addiction – so it is only right that the NHS brings services together to serve patients in their communities.”

‘Discovered and made in Britain’

Meanwhile, the prime minister has unveiled a £200m cash injection for the UK’s health and life sciences industry. The funding will be matched by £400m of private investment to allow science companies to expand development plans.

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This government hopes the investment will allow companies to raise capital to run clinical trials, employ more industrial scientists and boost manufacturing in the UK.

Boris Johnson said it was part of his vision to have a “vibrant post-Brexit economy fuelled by science and technology”.

He said: “The UK has the best universities in the world and we have a proud history of scientific discovery from penicillin to sequencing the human genome. But too often we let another country commercialise this discovery.

“I want the lifesaving cancer treatments of tomorrow to say ‘discovered and made in Britain’. That means allowing enough late stage capital to be mobilised so that these science discoveries do not have to go overseas to be commercialised.”