Minister visits New Hospital Programme schemes in East of England

Health Minister visits schemes across East of England which have been prioritised for rebuilding by 2030 due to significant amounts of RAAC

  • Patients and staff to benefit from safer facilities as well as modern, standardised hospital designs and state of the art technology
  • New Hospital Programme now expected to be backed by over £20 billion of investment in hospital infrastructure, with 7 new hospital schemes in the East of England

This week Health Minister Lord Markham visited 3 hospitals across the East of England, which have all been prioritised to be rebuilt by 2030 due to the significant amount of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in the hospitals. Forming part of a summer tour, his visits saw him discuss the government’s plans to build 40 new hospitals across England by 2030 with staff, patients and local leaders.

Beginning at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, Lord Markham saw first-hand how over £11 million has already been spent preparing the site ready for construction, and the development of its business case. He spoke to the trust’s management team, local councillors staff and patients to discuss the benefits of the new hospital, particularly after timelines for rebuilding were brought forward due to the risks posed by the RAAC. This means construction will begin as soon as possible and will be completed by 2030.

Lord Markham also travelled to King’s Lynn to discuss the rebuild of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Rebuilding these facilities will not only ensure they’re fit for the future but will also improve the lives and safety of both staff and local patients in West and North Norfolk who use the buildings. The trust has already been allocated nearly £80 million since 2021 for works to mitigate and minimise the risk of RAAC on patient and staff safety, including propping. As part of the New Hospital Programme, fast progress is already being made with planning permission granted for a car park at the site.

Finally, the Health Minister visited Hinchingbrooke Hospital  near Huntingdon, to discuss its plans for the new hospital after it was also included as one of new five hospitals that have been identified as requiring a full rebuild due to the presence of RAAC. Having already been given over £43 million of funding on works to mitigate the impact and risks it poses to patient and staff safety since 2021, Lord Markham met with local representatives, and staff and patients to hear their views on what’s needed in the new hospital.

The three hospitals are all in their strategic outline case phase – this means they are planning the content and structure of the proposed new hospital plans which will then be reviewed by ministers to ensure they meets the needs of staff and patients and provide value for money for taxpayers.

In total, 7 new hospitals will be built in the East of England by 2030 and the government recently confirmed for the first time that the New Hospital Programme is expected to be backed by over £20 billion of investment in infrastructure.

Separately through wider capital funding, the James Paget hospital is also receiving £17 million of government funding to build a new Orthopaedic elective Hub. The Hub will be completed next summer and will have 2 operating theatres, a post-surgery recovery area and four patients bays. It’ll also be open 7 days a week and provide 1,400 extra theatre sessions per year.

Health Minister Lord Markham said:

"We are investing in new NHS facilities across the country so patients can access high quality care in state-of-the-art hospitals, both now and in the years to come.

"The East of England will benefit from seven new hospitals by 2030 and this week I’ve been visiting some of the sites which will be prioritised due to the presence of RAAC. I’ve enjoyed speaking to patient, staff and local leaders across the region about the plans and progress These which will help to improve safety as well as care and allow patients to be seen more quickly. This is a fundamental part of our plan to cut waiting lists – one of the government’s top five priorities.

"In the long term, our new standardised design means we can rapidly replicate new hospitals across the country, helping to speed up construction and deliver on our commitment of 40 new hospitals by 2030."

Across the region, staff shared their experiences and discussed how the new hospitals will support the transformation of healthcare in the East of England by improving the patient experience with new, high-quality environments as well as improving clinical outcomes with modern theatres, wards, and diagnostic facilities to help cut waiting lists.

Making use of the latest technology, the new hospitals will have digital solutions included at the design stage which will help to reduce staff workloads and support working from any location, whilst improving the patient experience. The hospitals will also have ‘smart buildings’, which will collect and process data to optimise energy usage and contribute to the NHS’s sustainability goals.

By developing a national approach to delivering new hospitals, known as Hospital 2.0, they can be built more quickly and at a reduced cost, providing value for taxpayers. Patients and staff will benefit from a modern hospital design making use of the latest technology, digital innovation and sustainability to improve overall patient experience and provide a better working environment for staff. This will also put the NHS on a sustainable footing for the future.

Backed by increased staff with the first ever NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, we will deliver the biggest training expansion in NHS history and recruit and retain hundreds of thousands more staff over the next 15 years. This will be supported by over £2.4 billion in government funding.

Department of Health and Social Care
Lord Markham CBE