Claims that Basingstoke Will Have A New Hospital are Irresponsible Spin
Updated: Oct 4, 2019
It was announced during the Conservative party Conference was on Sunday that there would be 40 new hospitals but only hours after the PM, Boris Johnson’s, announcement newspapers and the BBC were correcting their headlines to read 6 new hospitals.
The Government announced that it would be building 6 new hospitals as part of their pre-election spending pledge allocating £2.8 billion to meet this.
On Monday the Basingstoke Gazette published a story As you are aware on Monday the Basingstoke Gazette put out a story claiming that a new Hospital would be built in Basingstoke:
I was concerned about this this story as there is no new hospital planned for Basingstoke and this is irresponsible Tory spin. I am concerned that the Gazette's announcement has given the people of Basingstoke false expectations that there will be a new hospital. The Gazette allowed me to respond:
Sadly, Basingstoke and North Hampshire is not on the list of the 6 hospitals which can be found in the Government press release at the foot of this blog. This announcement is “spin”. These 6 hospitals selected already had plans for rebuilding in place prior to the announcement. In fact, completely “new” hospitals won’t emerge as plans for these 6 hospitals include extensions or new buildings on separate sites, not demolition and rebuilding or moving to a new site.
Basingstoke and North Hampshire is one of the 21 hospitals identified for possible “seed” funding. This seed funding will enable these hospitals to develop their business cases and this is preparatory work for plans that will take place almost a decade from now by 2030. I watched Conservative Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, state on the Sophy Ridge Show on Sunday that whilst tax funding had been allocated for the 6 hospitals, the rest of the money (for the 21) would come in the future. This is estimated to be around £100 million. However this won’t go far among the 21 hospitals putting in “seed” plans for 34 new hospitals. Assuming Matt Hancock finds that funding at a future date the business cases and plans put forward by the 21 will still have to be approved. It is also likely that this could just be refurbishment to the existing premises or an extension and not a new hospital.
It’s worth looking at the real costs of building new hospitals before we get carried away with this “spin”. A mental health hospital in Cornwall cost £7m. The reconstruction of Bart’s hospital in London cost £1.1b. The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham cost £545 million in 2010. The Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital £75 million to build and 15 million on top for equipment. An MRI scanner alone is about £895,00.
It is irresponsible of Maria Miller and the Basingstoke Conservatives to give Basingstoke residents and NHS staff false hopes and promises that lack certainty. This brings back memories of 2017, when the £336 million critical care hospital that was planned to be built at North Waltham was found to be unaffordable by the CCGs and after 5 years of planning was scrapped.
Labour agrees that the Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital is in urgent need of investment and that this covers a range of areas from staff shortages, repairs to the buildings, waiting times. That the hospital is too small for the growing town. It is tragic that it has been rated as requiring improvement in a recent CQC inspection as the dedicated staff and town don’t deserve this. We cannot wait until 2030 to resolve these issues which are not just about the fabric of the building. Labour established the NHS 70 years ago and are fully committed to reinvesting in the NHS – our hospitals, our GP surgeries, NHS staff and patients as part of a joined up policy plan.