– in the House of Commons at 1:16 pm on 25th May 2023.
It is like a two-for-one offer.
With permission, Madam Deputy Speaker, I will make a statement on the new hospital programme.
As we celebrate 75 years of the NHS this summer, we must continue to set up its success for the 75 years to come. At the heart of this is our new hospital programme, the biggest hospital building programme in a generation, which will help us to deliver on our manifesto commitment to build 40 new hospitals by 2030. Today, I reconfirm to the House our commitment for 40 new hospitals to be built by 2030.
We made our manifesto commitment in 2019, and in 2020 we listed 40 schemes as part of the new hospital programme. Since we formally launched the schemes, we have learned more about the use of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete, more commonly known as RAAC. RAAC is a lightweight form of concrete that, between the mid-1950s and the mid-1980s, was commonly used in the construction of a number of public buildings, including hospitals—often on roofs and occasionally in walls and floors.
We now know that RAAC has a limited lifespan, with difficult and dangerous consequences for the people who rely on or work in those hospitals. I know this has caused considerable concern to colleagues in this House, to NHS staff in those hospitals and to constituents who are treated in them.
We remain committed to eradicating RAAC from the wider NHS estate. As part of the spending review allocation up to 2024-25, we allocated £685 million in immediate support to the affected trusts, but in some cases we must go much further. Seven hospitals in England were constructed, either wholly or in major part, with RAAC, and an independent assessment shows they are not safe to operate beyond 2030. Two of the hospitals are already part of the new hospital programme, namely the West Suffolk Hospital and James Paget University Hospital. The five remaining hospitals have submitted expressions of interest to join the programme but are not yet part of it. Those are Airedale General Hospital in Keighley, Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, Hinchingbrooke Hospital near Huntingdon, Mid Cheshire’s Leighton Hospital, and Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey.
We accept in full the independent assessment that these hospitals are not safe to operate beyond 2030. Today, I confirm to the House that we will expand our new hospital programme to include those five further hospitals built with significant amounts of RAAC. With the two RAAC hospitals already in the programme, the seven RAAC hospitals will be rebuilt completely using a standardised design known as Hospital 2.0, with the aim of completing all seven by 2030. I can confirm to the House today that these new hospitals will be fully funded.
I want to take a moment to thank all those who have campaigned so tirelessly for new hospitals to be built to replace the existing RAAC hospitals, including my hon. Friends the Members for Keighley (Robbie Moore) and for Shipley (Philip Davies), who have championed Airedale vociferously; my right hon. Friend Michael Gove, who has campaigned so strongly for Frimley; my hon. Friend Mr Djanogly, who lobbied hard for Hinchingbrooke; my hon. and learned Friend Edward Timpson and my hon. Friend Dr Mullan, who led the campaign on Leighton Hospital; and my hon. Friend James Wild, my hon. Friend Duncan Baker, who is my Parliamentary Private Secretary, and my right hon. Friend Elizabeth Truss, who all campaigned so assiduously for the hospital in King’s Lynn.
Taken together, the new hospital programme represents a huge commitment to strengthening the NHS estate. Since 2020, we have committed to invest £3.7 billion by the financial year 2024-25, and we expect the total investment to now be more than £20 billion for the programme as a whole. Resolving the uncertainty over the RAAC hospitals, which today’s announcement achieves, in turn allows much-needed clarity for the rest of the new hospital programme. The programme has been divided into cohorts 1 to 4, and construction in cohort 1 has already started. Cohort 1 contains eight schemes. Two hospitals are already open to patients, with the new Louisa Martindale Building at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton due to open later this year. Work at Moorfields Eye Hospital is due to start imminently, having cleared its final business case.
Cohort 2 comprises 10 schemes. The following schemes will now be ready to proceed, in line with plans set out by the respective trusts: the National Rehabilitation Centre; Derriford emergency care hospital in Plymouth; Cambridge Cancer Research Hospital; Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester; and St Ann’s Hospital, Christchurch Hospital, the Royal Bournemouth Hospital and Poole Hospital, all of which are in Dorset. A further two schemes within cohort 2, Shotley Bridge Community Hospital and the women and children’s hospital in Cornwall, will also be approved to proceed, but in line with the standardised design elements we are promoting through Hospital 2.0, on which I will set out further details in a moment. As such, with the uncertainty that surrounded the RAAC hospitals now addressed, all the cohort 2 schemes can proceed, and they will be fully funded.
The cohort 3 schemes include major hospital new builds at Sutton, Whipps Cross, Hillingdon, Watford, Harlow, Leeds and Leicester. Today’s announcement confirms that those schemes will now proceed and be fully funded. They will be constructed using the Hospital 2.0 standardised approach. It is worth reminding the House of the merits of using that methodology. First, although longer will be taken on the initial design, the current approach of each scheme constructing its own bespoke design has meant that the average time from design to completion of a major hospital has been about 11 and a half years. By embracing modern methods of construction, we will massively speed up the construction phase and, in addition, accelerate Treasury and other government assurance processes. There has been much debate to date on when hospitals start, but the more important issue is when schemes are completed. A standardised modular design has been shown to work in other sectors—for example, when building schools and prisons—and is widespread across the private sector.
Today’s announcement confirms that all cohort 3 schemes can now proceed. In turn, enabling works that had been held up due to the uncertainty about the RAAC hospitals can now progress. I pay tribute to right hon. and hon. Members who have campaigned strongly for the cohort 3 hospitals to proceed. They include my right hon. Friends the Members for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson), for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith), for Harlow (Robert Halfon) and for Epping Forest (Dame Eleanor Laing), and my hon. Friend Julie Marson. I know that not all of them can raise points during this statement, but the latter three have all championed Harlow and its case. I also pay tribute to my hon. Friend Elliot Colburn, to name just some of those who have raised these issues. [Interruption.]
Opposition Members have asked for the update and called for the programme, but they do not want to hear about it when the announcement is being made.
Turning to the hospitals in cohort 4, two of the schemes —West Suffolk Hospital and James Paget University Hospital—are RAAC hospitals. As I touched on a moment ago, they have been confirmed as part of the seven RAAC schemes. They will therefore be funded for completion by 2030. Four more hospitals in cohort 4 remain on track for completion by 2030: Milton Keynes University Hospital, Kettering General Hospital, Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton and Torbay Hospital. Again, I pay tribute to the Members for those constituencies, including my hon. Friends the Members for Milton Keynes South (Iain Stewart), for Milton Keynes North (Ben Everitt), for Kettering (Mr Hollobone), for Taunton Deane (Rebecca Pow) and for Torbay (Kevin Foster).
The remaining seven hospitals within that cohort will also proceed as part of the new hospital programme. The work will start on those schemes over the next two years, but they will be part of a rolling programme where not all work will be completed by 2030. That is a reflection of the disruption that two years of the covid pandemic caused, as well as the pressure from construction inflation.
Some work within cohort 4 will start next year. That includes a new surgical hub at Eastbourne, alongside the discharge lounge already under construction. We will discuss key worker accommodation on the site with the trust, as part of engagement with the local housing association. At Charing Cross Hospital in Hammersmith, work will begin on temporary ward capacity to enable the floor-by-floor refurbishment to proceed. In Nottingham, work will begin on a new surgical hub and three new operating theatres will begin as part of the wider redesign, taking forward the Ockenden report recommendations. In Lancashire, a new surgical hub will be opened at the Royal Preston Hospital, which is due to be completed this year. We will reconfigure services across two trusts. I am sure that one of those sites will be of interest to Mr Speaker, as it is expected to be near Chorley. We are in active discussion with the Royal Berkshire Hospital, given the problems with the existing site, which had already made a 2030 completion date very stretching. In addition, we are building three new mental health hospitals in the Surrey and Borders, Derbyshire and Mersey Care areas.
Turning to Devon, I pay tribute to my hon. Friend Selaine Saxby and my right hon. and learned Friend Sir Geoffrey Cox, who have secured new community diagnostics centres at North Devon. The discharge hub there is near completion, and we will take forward discussions with the trust and the local housing association on key worker accommodation over the next two years, as the first part of the North Devon new hospital build. We will discuss the original refurbishment proposal alongside the new build Hospital 2.0 option.
In summary, the cohort schemes will all proceed, but the commitment to completion by 2030 applies to the 40 schemes set out today, which meets our manifesto commitment to build 40 hospitals by 2030.
Finally, let me set out the merits of the Hospital 2.0 approach. Building new hospitals in this way has clear advantages. Construction experts estimate that with modular design, the efficiency saving will be in the region of 25% per square foot. That is essential in addressing the pressure of construction inflation and unlocking the additional schemes that are being absorbed as a result of the RAAC announcement.
There is one key risk to today’s announcement: the plan announced by the Labour party. As we speed things up, it is determined to grind them to a halt. The plan Labour set out on Monday said:
“as a first step, before we commit to any more money, we’d make an assessment of all NHS capital projects to make sure money is getting allocated efficiently”.
So the risk to these schemes is from those on the Benches opposite.
Today’s announcement confirms more than £20 billion of investment for the NHS estate. It confirms that all seven RAAC hospitals, which NHS leaders have called on the Government to prioritise, will be prioritised, with complete rebuilds using modern methods of construction. It allows all cohort 2 schemes to proceed once business cases have been agreed, and modular build will be used for two of those schemes. It gives trusts the certainty to begin enabling works on major schemes in cohort 3 and a package of early work for schemes in cohort 4, two of which will be accelerated as part of the RAAC programme.
In 2019 we committed to the biggest hospital building programme in a generation, and today we confirm the funding to build 40 hospitals by 2030. I commend this statement to the House.
Normally, I would thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of his statement, but by the time it arrived we were already in the Chamber. But it is all right; we will manage. I just thought, “What an astonishing coincidence that so many Conservative Members, whom the Secretary of State name-checked, happened to find their way to the Chamber at precisely the right moment.” It is almost as if they knew in advance. But no, I shall just assume that they sped to the Chamber faster than the Home Secretary down the motorway. I think we can assume that, with today’s migration figures, the Government have concluded that today is a good day to bury bad news. I will come on to respond to the statement, but I just wonder whether, at this stage in the lifecycle of 13 years of Conservative Government, the public might have just begun to see through the over-promising and under-delivering.
The NHS estate is crumbling after 13 years of Conservative neglect. Across England, backlog maintenance costs have more than doubled, from £4.7 billion in 2011-12 to £10.2 billion in 2021-22, and we see the consequences of that. Leeds Teaching Hospital saw more than 100 raw sewage leaks last year. Let us not beat about the bush, we are talking about urine and faeces leaking into wards and patient rooms. Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was forced to suspend some services because of an uncontrollable rat infestation. One of the Health Secretary’s own local hospitals in King’s Lynn has earned itself a special accolade—the most propped hospital in the country. More than 4,000 steel and timber support props are supporting its dilapidated roof—enough to extend for six miles. We have leaking sewage, rat infestations and collapsing roofs. We are in this mess because of Conservative neglect and mismanagement. They literally did not fix the roof while the sun was shining and now patient safety is at risk. Indeed, on the RAAC hospitals in particular, the Secretary of State said in his statement:
“An independent assessment shows they are not safe to operate beyond 2030.”
Indeed, what a relief to those communities that, finally, the Secretary of State has come forward to confirm that they will at least be built. I hope that will be done at speed so that we can make sure that at least one group of hospitals is built by 2030.
Turning to his wider promise, I genuinely expected that the Secretary of State might come to the House today and be upfront about the fact that, whatever promises the former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, made in 2019, the pledge to build 40 new hospitals by 2030 will simply not happen. It was a straightforward commitment—40 new hospitals—but since it was made we have become familiar with the idea that they were not new and, astonishingly, they were not even new hospitals. In fact, since that general election we have had more new Health Secretaries than we have had new hospitals. Indeed, we have a case in point—like the new hospitals, some of them are not even new.
In August 2021 we discovered the Government’s definition of a “new” hospital when a departmental memo on key media lines to use when talking about the programme advised that fix-ups and paint jobs should be included. Then in November of that same year, the Government’s own infrastructure watchdog called the programme “unachievable.” So what has changed? In February this year it was revealed that only 10 of the projects even had planning permission. Just last week the BBC reported that the building work is yet to start on 33 of the 40 projects promised. In fact, most are still waiting to hear what their final budget will be, and none of the six that were supposed to be ready for 2025 has full planning permission or funding yet.
This matters, because people in those places were made a promise. The Secretary of State has the audacity to repeat that promise today when—even if the will is there and, as he says, the money is there—it is hard to see or understand how, practically, he will be able to deliver 40 new hospitals by 2030. Will he now come clean and admit that this is just another example of the Conservatives over-promising and under-delivering? The fact is that, thanks to the dither and delay and the churn of personnel from one Health Secretary to another and one Prime Minister to another, the programme has been hit with delays and uncertainty for years. As a result, the costs have soared, and it is less likely that the hospitals will ever be built, letting down taxpayers and letting down patients.
The Secretary of State has also tried to instil this sense of jeopardy that, if there were a change of Government and they were a Labour Government, hospital building would somehow become less likely. He quoted the Leader of the Opposition accurately, but he did not seem to understand the meaning. It is quite right to say that, before we commit any more money to capital projects, we will want to make sure that these projects are feasible, are good value for money and will deliver the improvement that patients need.
However, if I have understood the Secretary of State’s statement correctly, the hospitals that he has announced are all fully funded. I cannot wait to see the detail behind “fully funded”, but surely if we are accepting him at face value and these are fully funded, there will not be the need for any more money from a Labour Government to fund these 40 new hospitals. Therefore, there is no risk or jeopardy at all, assuming that the money is there and the case stacks up. That is why we requested a National Audit Office investigation into the programme and why we will set up an office of value for money to make sure that we get value for every penny of taxpayers’ money spent.
The Conservatives have dithered so much that it has been reported that the programme is now expected to cost twice as much as originally estimated—an eye-watering £35 billion. Does the Health Secretary recognise that figure? If he does not, will he commit to publishing the latest estimate that his Department has made of the true cost of the programme? If it is fully funded, can he explain exactly where that money has come from?
This is not just about cost, but about the very real threat to patient safety, which this irresponsible Government are presiding over day in, day out. In December, the Health Secretary acknowledged the enormous concerns about reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete used in certain hospitals, and the safety implications of this. He committed to eradicating it from the NHS estate. Why has it taken him six months to get to this point? I wonder how many of the new hospitals have been kicked into the long grass, beyond 2030, as a result of the decision that his Department has made today.
In conclusion, is it not time for the Health Secretary to come clean with the House and with the public and admit that the only place that these 40 “new” hospitals will exist by 2030 is in the former Prime Minister’s imagination? In fact, what we have heard today is a plan on paper, but it is one that will never see reality in practice.
It is a very strange approach to complain about Members coming to the Chamber. The hon. Gentleman almost sinks his own point with his opening gambit. We are here because of the campaigning of Conservative Members for new hospitals. That is why, when they see that there is a statement on new hospitals as part of that campaign, it is no surprise that they are in the Chamber. It is pretty odd to complain about Members coming to the Chamber because they are interested in what is happening in their own constituencies.
It is equally strange for the Opposition to appear to be complaining about a plan that they have been calling for over recent weeks. The shadow Secretary of State has repeatedly said that he wants to see the new hospitals programme plan. We have set that out in the statement today, to which he says he is concerned that we only have a plan. A plan on the Government side beats no plan on the Opposition side.
The hon. Gentleman also seems, slightly oddly, not to welcome a commitment to over £20 billion of investment in the NHS estate. He seems to have an objection to me giving a commitment to address the issues of RAAC hospitals, which NHS leaders themselves have said should be prioritised and which independent reports have said create a risk beyond 2030, and coming to the Chamber after discussions with Treasury colleagues and others across Government to confirm that we now have funding to address the seven RAAC hospitals that he has called for action on.
The shadow Secretary of State then seems to have an objection about speed, yet the whole thrust of my statement was about how we are changing our methodology through the use of modern methods of construction, learning from what has been done in the education sector, the justice sector and the private sector about delivering construction schemes at pace. That gives more confidence on cost; it stops local chief executives changing the specifications once designs are under way; it allows things to be built more quickly; it allows us to benefit from technology, with construction in factories as opposed to more conventional construction; and it allows us to deliver schemes more quickly.
It is for that reason that Conservative Members campaigned so strongly for it, none more so than my right hon. Friend Andrew Stephenson, who has been an assiduous champion of the case for Airedale General Hospital. As the statement sets out, we are committed to addressing the RAAC hospitals, and fixing them has in turn unblocked something that was causing delay to the programme for the enabling works for cohort 3, in particular.
Cohort 2, where schemes are well advanced, will also now be able to proceed. We also updated the House on the more bespoke approach being taken to some of cohort 4. The shadow Secretary of State is right to talk about a sense of jeopardy, because those on the Opposition Front Bench have said they want to pause, review and stop the schemes we will be proceeding with. That is the real risk to the new hospitals programme. We have a new approach. We have a clear plan. It is the Labour party that wants to stop it.
I call the Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee.
I am grateful for the statement; the Select Committee will want to have a good look at it, and we will start when the Secretary of State comes to see us next month. At the last election, I promised my constituents significant investment in Winchester Hospital. That is already happening, and now with early work in cohort 4 we have the promise of the elective hub to scale the orthopaedic list. Can the Secretary of State be clear with my constituents that, as the new Hampshire hospital comes together as part of the wider cohort 4, it will be for clinicians to make the clinical case on what safe and sustainable services look like in the long term for those people?
There are different issues around construction and service design. In terms of service design, there will need to be discussions with local clinicians and others. As my hon. Friend knows, with his scheme in North and Mid Hampshire, there are issues around the new site for junction 7 of the M3, where there is significant work on potential land acquisition and what upgrading of the motorway would be required. There is a question about the size of the hospital versus other services offered locally. Those are the issues we are keen to get in discussion with the North and Mid Hampshire trusts on, and that will be part of the rolling programme we take forward.
On the Leeds project, I welcome the announcement by the Secretary of State, but can I press him on the detail? How much money is going to be allocated to the Leeds project? Will the standardised approach that he has talked about have any flexibility within it, given the particular characteristics of the Leeds site, which he knows about, and the fact that, as he is also aware, it is cleared and ready to go?
For reasons of commercial confidentiality, which I am sure the House will recognise, it would be unwise to say what each scheme is allocated—that would be most interesting to the developers bidding for that work. That is why we will not set out individual allocations. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, I have been to see Leeds and I recognise the importance of the work there. On the modular design 2.0, I pay tribute to the work that Lord Markham has done; he brings real commercial experience into the use of modular methods of construction. Those schemes are designed to have some flex. I sat for four years on the Public Accounts Committee, and one of the recurring themes during my time there was costs increasing because specifications were changed mid-build. One of the advantages of the modular method of construction is that, by putting all the advice into the design at the front end, we can standardise design, have the benefits of scale and maximise the “national” in National Health Service, rather than having individual schemes, all of them at risk of specifications changing and costs inflating.
I thank my right hon. Friend the Health Secretary for listening to our representations in west Norfolk and announcing a new build for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn. As he knows, the hospital is in a poor state. Parts of it are being held up by stilts and the concrete is crumbling. This announcement will come as a huge relief to local residents and will be extremely welcome. Can he confirm that the new hospital will open its doors by 2030?
I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend for her campaigning on this issue, together with other Members, including my hon. Friends the Members for Mid Norfolk (George Freeman) and for North Norfolk (Duncan Baker), who have also led that campaign. I can confirm that the new hospital will open by 2030. We accept in full the findings of the independent report. That is why the seven RAAC hospitals are being prioritised and why today’s announcement is such great news for staff and patients in King’s Lynn.
The Imperial College Healthcare NHS trust, including St Mary’s Hospital Paddington, has the largest maintenance backlog in the country. We have had floods, fires, sewage leaks and collapsed ceilings. I noticed that St Mary’s Hospital was not mentioned in the course of the statement. Can the Secretary of State confirm to me that it will be completed as one of the 40 hospitals by 2030?
St Mary’s is part of three aspects of the Imperial NHS trust: there is the work at Charing Cross in Hammersmith, where we are building the temporary ward to unblock the refurbishment, which will be floor by floor, and the work in Hammersmith with the cardiac—[Interruption.] Andy Slaughter may want to chunter, but I am trying to explain the investment we are placing into the constituencies, so we have funding going into—[Interruption.]
Order. I have asked the hon. Gentleman politely to stop shouting. I hope he will do so.
Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. We recognise the importance of the Imperial bid; that is why we are starting to build the temporary ward capacity at Charing Cross and the first phase of work is under way on the cardiac elective recovery hub, to bring cardiac work on to the Hammersmith site. On St Mary’s Hospital, we have already put in some initial funding to explore the new site with Transport for London and Network Rail. That will go into the rolling programme, of which St Mary’s will be part, alongside the redesign that is needed, taking on board the changes at Charing Cross and Hammersmith.
I unreservedly welcome this announcement for my Whipps Cross University Hospital, for my constituents and all the other residents. I know secretly, in his heart, Wes Streeting rejoices with me—I want to out him on that point. He stood on the line with me when we tried to stop the last Labour Government closing that hospital, so together we will rejoice over this. I know he will; he is a decent chap. I simply say to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that for 30 years I have campaigned for the hospital to be rebuilt. To build it now will be a fantastic delivery for our constituents. I have badgered him about it, as I have badgered his predecessors—who also include him—as Secretary of State down the past 30 years. Can he please answer one simple question? Will the work start physically, shovels in the ground, on this hospital in the autumn of this year?
Yes, we expect enabling works to start at Whipps Cross. I have been to the site with my right hon. Friend. We have seen the urgency of it. As he said, he has campaigned vigorously on this and championed it throughout. We are very keen, now that we have unblocked the issue around the RAAC hospitals, to start the enabling works on the cohort 3 sites as soon as possible. Obviously, we will, now that we have clarity, discuss with trusts the precise timetable, but the funding for the enabling works to progress will now be available, and we will work with the trust to take that forward.
In what way is delaying work on Charing Cross and Hammersmith Hospitals speeding things up? This is the most shameful, self-serving and nakedly political statement I think I have ever heard. We have heard that Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust has the biggest backlog in the country. The Government tried for eight years to demolish Charing Cross Hospital, and now they are promising a portacabin there. The only thing that gives me comfort is that the Secretary of State and the whole rotten lot of them will be out of here in a year’s time, and we will have a Labour Government who will actually deliver for Imperial, for Charing Cross, for Hammersmith and for my constituents.
At pretty much every election the hon. Gentleman has stood for, he has said that all the local hospitals will be closed by a Conservative Government, so it is good to have him championing the redesign and refurbishment of those hospitals. What really undermined his question was the question from his colleague, Ms Buck. The whole point is that we need to look at the interaction between Charing Cross, Hammersmith and St Mary’s Hospitals—the design of services needs to be looked at across the Imperial trust as a collective. Vis-à-vis a potential new site at St Mary’s, there are questions relating to Transport for London and Network Rail. On Charing Cross, we need to create temporary ward capacity in order then to unblock the refurbishments, which we will do floor by floor. It is a very tightly constrained site and it needs a bespoke approach. That is what we are setting out. Where schemes can follow a standardised design, we will have a modular 2.0 approach, but some schemes that need refurbishment have particular site issues, and we will work through them in a more bespoke way.
This is marvellous news across the country, but I would like to ask the Secretary of State about the decision on Lancaster. I have heard that we may gain a new hospital further down the line—we are in need of one. Any news he could give us would be fantastic not just for me, after all my lobbying of him and his predecessors—much like my right hon. Friend Sir Iain Duncan Smith—but for Cat Smith, who is my hon. Friend in this context.
It is not just the Eden Project North on which my hon. Friend has been a vigorous campaigner: he has raised this assiduously as well. As he knows, the trust is at a very early stage in its consideration of what public consultation will be needed around the reconfiguration of services across Lancaster. We are not letting that stop our work to open a new surgical hub at the Royal Preston Hospital, for example. As he knows, I know the geography very well in terms of the interaction with Lancaster. There are a number of options on consolidation and expanding to two sites. I look forward to discussions with him as we take that forward.
Having asked the Government 14 times to release funding to West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust and other hospital trusts, I am relieved that they now have approval to proceed, but the Secretary of State will know, as the rest of us do, that the construction industry thinks that the 2030 date is pie in the sky. The Government have not been looking after our hospitals, so we have lost huge parts of the workforce and of our supply chains. Building magazine says that the contract notice for a delivery partner will not even be published until September. Of course, as I understand it, none of the major construction companies has even started to put together project teams to bid for the work. For all the talk of 2030, could the Secretary of State tell us how much progress he is prepared to promise before the next general election?
The announcement and the manifesto commitment were to build by 2030. The hon. Lady touches on the engagement with industry; Lord Markham has been engaging with industry. We have had a significant team, both within the Department and in NHS England, working on the standardised designs. The whole point is that we have seen in other sectors how standardisation allows us to construct much more quickly. It will also allow internal processes in government to be much quicker because we are not looking at each scheme in a bespoke way; we will have much more standardisation. That is how we will move at a much quicker pace. It has required us to take a little more time over recent months as we have finalised the plan, but now that we have that plan and clarity about the RAAC hospitals in particular, we will be able to move with much more pace.
I warmly welcome my right hon. Friend’s statement and the confirmation that the new Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust hospital in Basingstoke is one of the cohort 4 hospitals due for completion in 2032-33. It will serve residents in my constituency and those of a number of right hon. and hon. Members. We have a plan, a preferred site and an amazing team on the ground, so how can my right hon. Friend work with me and other colleagues to speed up this new hospital? It is badly needed to replace the current hospital, which was built in the 1970s to last 50 years. We have one of the biggest maintenance backlogs, and we really need the new hospital to meet the needs of our growing population. We have some of the highest levels of house building in the south-east. What can he do to help?
My right hon. Friend has assiduously and passionately led the campaign on this. I stand ready to have further discussions with her. She is right about the trust going into the rolling programme; that is how it will be taken forward. As I touched on in response to the Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee, my hon. Friend Steve Brine, there are some questions that we are keen to work through—not least around junction 7, the land acquisition, and the service design—and I know that she will be at the fore in making representations on those points.
Will the Secretary of State clarify the position on North Manchester General Hospital? It is not mentioned in the written copy of his statement and I did not hear him mention it. When Boris Johnson announced the original building scheme, North Manchester General Hospital was a top six—if not the top—hospital. Its problems are not mid-20th century concrete; they are mid-19th century buildings that need replacing with modern buildings. I thank the Secretary of State for emailing me in the middle of his speech—it was very clever; I got the email when he was on his feet—to say that initial works and progress can start. That has happened—grounds are being cleared, a car park is under construction and a new mental health unit is being built on that site—but the final clearance for what was a half-billion pound scheme has not been given. The trust has told me in correspondence that it cannot get clearance. Will he give the final go-ahead now, and will he return to north Manchester and visit the hospital? I know that he has been before.
I have been before, as the hon. Gentleman knows, not least because I was an unsuccessful candidate in 1997, when he was elected to the House. I am very happy to ensure that a note comes with any further clarification—I will take that away and pick it up with the Department. I know that enabling works commenced in 2022. There have been extensive demolition works, which have continued into 2023. There is, as he is well aware, the key dependency for the Park House mental health project, which also needs to be factored in. The multi-storey car park is under construction, so that work is already under way. I hope that he can see the clarity that the statement will bring to the conversations that we can now have with trusts on enabling works and the next steps, but I am happy to get a more detailed note to him following the statement.
I know that my right hon. Friend Robert Halfon in particular, as well as you, Madam Deputy Speaker, as the Member for Epping Forest, and my hon. Friend Julie Marson, have led a showcase, turbocharged campaign for a new Princess Alexandra Hospital for Harlow in Essex. Any services in Essex benefit the whole of Essex. I also thank the Secretary of State for the £8 million invested in Southend University Hospital for a new, reconfigured A&E; plans are progressing very well. Does this multimillion-pound investment not show that we have a Government who are committed to improving healthcare for everyone across our brilliant county?
I very much agree. My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the £8 million investment in Southend and the wider capital programme, not least the roll-out of diagnostic centres and new surgical hubs, which are all part of us tackling the pandemic backlog and of our commitment to investing in the NHS estate.
With your indulgence, Madam Deputy Speaker, may I place on record my deep sadness at the passing of Karen Lumley today? She was a dear friend, as well as a valued colleague, and she will be very much missed.
I thank my right hon. Friend for the confirmation of funding for the new women and maternity unit at Milton Keynes University Hospital. Can he give me an assurance that he will work with Joe Harrison, the excellent chief executive, and his team to bring forward as many enabling works as possible? The site is ready to be developed almost immediately.
I am happy to give my hon. Friend that assurance. I have frequent meetings with the chief exec of Milton Keynes University Hospital, not least because he provides national leadership in our development of the NHS app. I know that he champions the Milton Keynes site and its next steps, and I am keen to continue to work constructively with him.
I am overjoyed at this statement. I was grateful that my right hon. Friend took up my invitation earlier this year to visit Watford General Hospital. My hope at that time was to make the argument in person, at the hospital, for why it was so important that we had the new build, and he listened. This announcement is beyond my expectations. The words “fully funded” mean so much to my constituents across Watford and West Herts. It means a state-of-the-art, fully funded, world-class hospital, and it is the result of years of tireless campaigning by both myself and my predecessor. My right hon. Friend Sir Mike Penning has also said that he is supportive, which is fantastic news.
As well as accepting my heartfelt thanks for listening to all my pleas, arguments, pitching and probably annoying conversations about this, will my right hon. Friend join me in thanking the leadership team at West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust for all their hard work and planning to make this a possibility today? Does he agree that the new hospital will not only transform healthcare for the entire area of Watford and West Herts but create a cutting-edge, 21st-century workplace for our fantastic staff and volunteers across the area?
My hon. Friend has not only championed Watford General Hospital; he has worked there as a volunteer on many occasions. He has been compelling in the representations he made to Ministers across Government on the case for investment in Watford. It is a huge tribute to him, and as he says, it is also a tribute to the wider leadership team in Watford. He is right that it will have a transformative effect, and I have seen at first hand, with him, the urgent case for investment in Watford that he has championed.
I very much welcome this statement, especially the commitment to Milton Keynes University Hospital. It is a key hospital that serves my constituents, alongside Stoke Mandeville Hospital, which also enjoys a new paediatric A&E, John Radcliffe Hospital and Wycombe Hospital. The case of Wycombe shows that it is not just reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete that trusts are grappling with; the tower at Wycombe needs at least £80 million in maintenance and repairs, or preferably, as the trust plans, a full decant, with a £200 million purpose-built planned care centre. That will take national spending. What hope can my right hon. Friend offer Buckinghamshire patients that Wycombe’s plans can become a reality?
As I touched on a moment ago, there are a range of initiatives across the NHS estate. The leadership team from the Getting It Right First Time programme, including Professor Tim Briggs, recently visited Wycombe to discuss proposals with the senior clinical team, and we look forward to working constructively with the local integrated care system as it designs the right fit for Wycombe and the wider system.
I thank the Secretary of State for his personal interest in and commitment to Kettering General Hospital and his visit to the hospital last July. Will he confirm that Kettering General Hospital’s place in the new hospital programme continues to be secured with a fully funded, redeveloped, improved and expanded hospital due on the existing site by 2030, in line with the original timeline?
As I set out in my statement, the place of Kettering in the new hospital programme is secure. That is in large part a result of my hon. Friend’s campaigning. He has raised this issue with me on a very regular basis and shown me at first hand the issues at Kettering. He has championed investment in Kettering General Hospital, and today’s announcement is a very positive day for the staff and patients of Kettering.
On behalf of my constituents, particularly in Middlewich and Sandbach, I warmly welcome the excellent news on the rebuild of Leighton Hospital. I thank Ministers for responding to the determined local campaigning on this, commendably led by my hon. Friend Dr Mullan and also involving my hon. and learned Friend Edward Timpson and my hon. Friend David Rutley. Without wanting to detract from that, could I again ask the Secretary of State to look at Congleton War Memorial Hospital? Will he meet me to discuss how the services and facilities there can be expanded and modernised? There is capacity for the site to serve the residents of Congleton, where demand is increasing, as house building has increased in the area.
I know that my hon. Friend has championed this investment in her health system. She is right that it serves a number of constituencies and is part of the wider system transformation that I set out, with other investments such as in diagnostic centres and surgical hubs. The Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, my hon. Friend Neil O’Brien, who leads on primary care, has been looking at the specific issue of new housing and how we can get the right level of contribution from new housing to local health facilities. I know that he will be happy to discuss that with her.
It is fantastic news that the Queen Elizabeth Hospital is one of the new hospitals that this Government are committed to building, and I am delighted that the case I have been making with very strong local support has been accepted. On behalf of my constituents and everyone at Team QEH, may I offer huge thanks to my right hon. Friend the Health Secretary for the determination he has shown to resolve the RAAC safety issues? Will he confirm that this is a fully funded plan, so that there will be a fit-for-the-future hospital in King’s Lynn by 2030?
I pay tribute to the work that my hon. Friend has done to champion the case for King’s Lynn. He has raised this issue with me and the ministerial team on a very regular basis, and he has been compelling. I am happy to confirm, as set out in the statement, that this will enable King’s Lynn to be rebuilt, and that is fully funded.
I welcome today’s statement. I have been working with the Royal Berkshire Hospital on the Building Berkshire Together community engagement programme, and there is palpable enthusiasm in my constituency that we are going to have a new, state- of-the-art hospital on our doorstep. But, as my right hon. Friend said in his statement, we are in cohort 4, and there are issues with this site. Can he give us a guarantee that there will be a rebuild at the Royal Berks, and could he set out the next steps, so that I can reassure my constituents as to what lies ahead?
My hon. Friend is right on both counts—first, that the Royal Berkshire is part of the rolling new hospital programme, and secondly, that there are complexities with that site. As she knows, part of the site is grade I listed, and there have been some specific issues with the existing site on which survey work has been undertaken. That is having an impact on the target date for work. We are funding a mental health crisis facility this year, along with the survey work, and I look forward to having further discussions with her as that progresses.
This announcement could not be better news for the people of Broadland. In the west of my constituency, they are going to be served by a brand new build at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, and a brand new hospital at the James Paget will be serving constituents at the other end of my constituency, joining the work of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in the centre. Can my right hon. Friend just confirm that the modular nature of the design will still provide the absolutely first-class facilities that the people of Norfolk deserve?
Today’s announcement is transformative for healthcare in Norfolk, for the reasons my hon. Friend has set out: a new hospital at the James Paget and a new hospital in King’s Lynn. Of course, there will be further work from Government on the diagnostic centres and surgical hubs, about which there will be further discussion. In terms of the quality of the modular design, we are bringing the country’s leading experts together, as well as engaging with the market to finalise those designs so that we can have the best inputs as we standardise the design, and then roll that out as the template for schemes at King’s Lynn and James Paget. The quality of the scheme should be of a very high order.
After three and a half years of tireless campaigning—of constant lobbying of the Government, raising the high structural risk profile of Airedale hospital due to its aerated concrete construction—I am delighted to hear today’s announcement from the Dispatch Box that we will be getting a new Airedale hospital that is going to be fit for the future. I put on record my thanks to the Airedale NHS Foundation Trust for its hard work and to my neighbouring Members in this place, as well as to the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Health Secretary for listening to our concerns and taking them on board. Can my right hon. Friend come and visit the great team at Airedale hospital, and will he give reassurance to me that our new Airedale hospital will be built and open by 2030?
My hon. Friend has campaigned assiduously over the past three years to make a compelling case for Airedale. I very much look forward to having the opportunity to visit in due course, and the commitment in today’s statement is to ensure that that hospital is built to the 2030 timescale.
Given the Secretary of State’s answers to my hon. Friend Steve Brine and my right hon. Friend Dame Maria Miller, could I press him a little further for some clarity on the replacement for Basingstoke hospital? Could he confirm that it is agreed that a replacement is needed for the hospital; that the money is in the budget to do so; and that, notwithstanding the complexities regarding the site that he outlined in his previous answers, a site will be found and a new hospital will be open in the early 2030s to serve all of our constituents?
On the issues that my right hon. Friend raises, it is agreed that a replacement is needed and that North and Mid Hampshire will go into the rolling programme for the new hospital programme. As a result, a site will be found, and the intention is to work to a 2032-33 timescale—that is the plan. The original timescale was already stretched because of some of the complexity involved, and I have also signalled just how long previous designs for hospitals have taken, so we are speeding up the construction side but we also need to address some of the issues, particularly around junction 7 and the site design.
I very warmly welcome this announcement and pay tribute to the leadership of Leighton Hospital, who have relentlessly advocated for this. It has been a three-year, team-effort campaign, particularly with my hon. and learned Friend Edward Timpson, as well as my hon. Friend Fiona Bruce and others. I thank the thousands of residents who signed the petition backing this campaign, and I know the team will be itching to get started. Could my right hon. Friend perhaps outline what the next steps will be for Leighton and the other sites?
Again, I pay tribute to my hon. Friend’s campaigning work, as well as the work he did in his local hospital as a volunteer during lockdown, which was extremely well received. It is why he has campaigned—along with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Eddisbury and my hon. Friend the Member for Congleton —to make the case for this investment. I am very happy to have further discussions with him as liaison with the trust on the next steps moves forward.
I am sure the Health Secretary has become absolutely sick of the sight of me campaigning for Milton Keynes’ new women’s and children’s hospital, both in his current role and his previous role at the Treasury. In the event that he is not sick of the sight of me, would he like to come up to Milton Keynes and look at the site, and where we can keep our foot on the pedal and get some enabling works going? We are going to hit that 2030 target, but there is no reason why we cannot get cracking and get started straightaway.
It is always a pleasure to see my hon. Friend whatever the issue, but he is right that he has assiduously raised the case for Milton Keynes, as has his neighbour, my hon. Friend Iain Stewart—they worked very effectively as a team to make that case. I look forward to having further discussions with him as we take the plans forward.
Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker—he who is first will be last, and he who is last will one day be first.
I thank the Secretary of State for his statement, and I congratulate all Members who have been successful with their bids for new hospitals. Sadly, there is one name missing from the announcement: Doncaster. Although I understand that the RAAC hospital replacements are desperately needed, and I know that many of my constituents will benefit from the new A&E department in Bassetlaw, that does not remove the need for Doncaster to have a new hospital. There is a brownfield site right in the centre of Doncaster that is shovel-ready and ready to go, so will the Secretary of State—as well as maybe the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Levelling Up—meet me to see what we can do to get Doncaster a new hospital? It would not just be a new hospital: it would revitalise the city of Doncaster, and we really need this.
My hon. Friend is right to champion the case of Doncaster. As he knows, while it is not in his constituency, the investment we are making in Bassetlaw is for patient care that, in a number of instances, will directly serve his constituents in Doncaster. That is why it is right that we look at capital investment on a system-wide basis, and I am very happy to have further discussions with him in conjunction with his local integrated care system as to that ICS’s future plans regarding its capital investment.
I thank the Secretary of State for his statement, and for responding to questions for exactly one hour. Iain Stewart mentioned the passing of Karen Lumley as well; she was a personal friend of mine. She was a wonderful person and a great Member of Parliament, and my deepest condolences go to Richard and the entire family. We will miss her.