Primary care projects to benefit from Johnson's £1.8bn NHS funding boost

Primary care projects are to benefit from a £1.8bn NHS funding boost that prime minister Boris Johnson has announced.

Prime minister Boris Johnson (Photo: Matthew Horwood/Stringer/Getty Images)
Prime minister Boris Johnson (Photo: Matthew Horwood/Stringer/Getty Images)

The government has confirmed that 20 projects, mostly in hospitals, will receive a share of £850m of new funding to upgrade outdated facilities and equipment. However four of the projects relate to primary care.

  • South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System will receive £57.5m for primary care investment across the region.
  • South Norfolk CCG will receive £25.2m to develop and improve primary care services in the area.
  • In north east London, Barking, Havering and Redbridge CCGs and North East London NHS Foundation Trust will receive £17m to develop a new health and wellbeing hub.
  • NHS Wirral CCG is to receive £18m to 'improve patient flow' by improving access to its urgent treatment centre.

The prime minister will also unveil a further £1bn increase to NHS capital spending aimed at 'tackling the most urgent infrastructure projects' in a speech at a Lincolnshire hospital today.

However, health experts have questioned how much of the £1bn is new funding, suggesting the government may be intending to give the 'go ahead' to previously cancelled plans using existing budgets.

GP premises

The BMA welcomed the funding, but warned that it was insufficient to tackle the estimated £6bn NHS maintenance backlog in hospitals alone. It also said further investment to address the 'impoverished state' of GP premises should be a priority for Mr Johnson's government.

BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: 'For too long, capital budgets – meant for investment in premises and facilities – have been diverted to prop up the day-to-day running of the health service.

'This has led to recent warnings about the perilous state of hospital buildings – from crumbling walls and ceilings to serious plumbing problems – with estimates putting the bill for current unfinished maintenance work at £6bn. There is also an urgent requirement for funding for additional hospital capacity.

'Furthermore, GP practice buildings are increasingly unfit for purpose, frequently unable to accommodate enough patients or health professionals to meet the needs of their local area. A recent BMA survey found that only half of practices felt their premises were suitable for present needs, while less than a quarter would meet the future needs of a growing population.

'The announcement of 20 hospital upgrades and £1.8bn is a step forward. However, it is equally vital that new investment must be directed to address the impoverished state of general practice buildings so that there is increased capacity for GP staff and services, without which the prime minister’s ambition to reduce waiting times will not be achievable.'

Cash injection

Ben Gershlick, senior economist at the Health Foundation, said: 'This extra money risks being little more than a drop in the ocean. Many hospitals, GP surgeries, and community and mental health facilities across England are in major disrepair. Just bringing England up to the OECD average for capital spending on health care would require an extra £4bn (in 2019/20 prices) a year by 2023/24.

'It also remains to be seen how much of this pledge will amount to new money or whether the intention is to give the go ahead for previously cancelled plans within the existing capital budget.'

Nuffield Trust senior analyst Sally Gainsbury tweeted that the £1bn was 'cash hospitals and other NHS trusts already have but have been forbidden to spend'.

She tweeted that the funding was part of the provider sustainability fund (PSF) incentive scheme that had been running for three years, under which between 70 and 90 trusts cut their spending each year by 50% more than they needed to break even in return for 'a total £2.3bn in cash rewards'.

Ahead of his speech today Mr Johnson said: 'The NHS is always there for us – free at the point of use for everyone in the country. With our doctors and nurses working tirelessly day in day out, this treasured institution truly showcases the very best of Britain.

'That’s why I made it my immediate task to make sure frontline services have the funding they need, to make a real difference to the lives of NHS staff, and above all, of patients.'

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