Britain’s hospital building program is moving too slowly and is too expensive, an independent public spending watchdog said on Monday, adding to Prime Minister Rishi Singh’s headache as he looks ahead to next year. Preparing for the elections.
Only 32 of former prime minister Boris Johnson’s 40 hospitals were on schedule by 2030, the National Audit Office (NAO) said.
“Delivery so far has been slower than expected,” said Gareth Davies, head of the neutral NAO.
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In a report, the watchdog said the government had so far “not achieved good value for money” with its new hospital programme, adding that it had spent $1.44 billion until March 2023).
Sink has made hospital waiting lists one of its priorities for 2023.
The goal of building the hospital was a 2019 election pledge of Johnson, who resigned as leader last year and has since left parliament. A pledge for 40 new hospitals in England by 2030 has been criticized because some of the proposals were to refurbish existing hospitals.
The NAO said eight other hospitals approved by the Ministry of Health before Johnson made the commitment were not originally intended to count towards the target.
Including these projects, 40 new hospitals will be built by the end of the decade, a health ministry spokesman said.
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“We are strongly committed to delivering these hospitals,” the spokesperson said.
Opposition Labor lawmaker Meg Hillier, who chairs parliament’s public accounts committee, said there had been a “sad lack of progress” towards hitting the target which the government was now trying to reverse.
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“The Department of Health and Social Care is trying to move the goalposts so it can claim it has met its target,” he said in a statement.
“Patients and physicians will have to wait longer than they expected before their new hospitals are completed.”