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NHS capital budgets need to nearly double to enable 21st century patient care

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Greater funding is required if the NHS is to meet stretching productivity targets of 2 per cent by 2030, say NHS leaders 

Health leaders have said that delivering faster and more productive patient care would be difficult unless NHS capital budgets are nearly doubled to at least £14.1 billion from the current spending of £7.7 billion.

The NHS Confederation has highlighted the impact that low levels of capital investment have had over the last decade in its report published today (29 November).

The report, ‘Investing to save: The capital requirement for a more sustainable NHS in England’, revealed that the UK has lagged behind other comparable countries in terms of health capital investment for more than five decades, resulting in less productivity.

It revealed that the NHS now has the sixth lowest number of CT and MRI scanners per million people of the OECD countries.

NHS leaders are now calling on all political parties to commit to a £6.4 billion annual capital funding increase for the NHS at next year’s three-year Spending Review to help the NHS address its £10.2 billion maintenance backlog, refurbish dilapidated buildings, upgrade equipment and turbocharge staff productivity.

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.”

He added that a significant increase to the NHS capital budget is required to make up for years of “under-resourcing and repeated raids on capital” that has left much of the estate broken.

NHS leaders noted that underinvestment is holding back their progress towards greater productivity, and it can also lead to long waiting lists and delayed care for patients.

Greater funding is needed if the NHS is to meet stretching productivity targets of 2 per cent by 2030, they said.

Further, the health leaders stated that increasing capital funding is their top financial priority ahead of the next election, alongside reform of how the capital regime operates.

The report also cited 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.

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