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Boris Johnson faces investigation over new hospital pledges

09:03 July 3, 2022

Boris Johnson’s election promise to build 40 new hospitals – including one in Norfolk – by 2030 is under scrutiny by the government’s spending watchdog.

The National Audit Office (NAO) is planning a ‘value for money review’ which could examine the impact of spiraling inflation on costs and determine whether hospitals will actually be new.

The government announced two years ago that James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston would receive money to build a new hospital as part of a £3.7billion investment.

Construction of the current hospital began in 1976 and was completed in 1981.

James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston
– Credit: James Paget University Hospital

Earlier this year, three possible designs for a new James Paget Hospital have been revealed.

But it has emerged that an investigation is underway into promises made by the Prime Minister during his 2019 election campaign.

Third option for the new JPUH

One of the options for the new James Paget University Hospital
– Credit: Allies and Morrison

The inquiry emerged in a letter from NAO Comptroller Gareth Davies to Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting.

In the reported letter by the ObserverMr. Davies responded to Mr. Streeting’s concerns about delays in the allocation of funds and whether the programs were really new hospitals.

Wes Streeting, Labor Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary

Wes Streeting, Shadow Labor Health Secretary
– Credit: PA

Mr Davies said: “I can confirm that I already intend to begin a value-for-money review of the New Hospitals Program later this year and report my findings in 2023.

“In particular, I note your comments on the implications of the delay for increased costs in this time of high inflation and whether all projects truly meet the ‘new hospital’ classification.”

The Department of Health and Social Care said: “We are on track to deliver 40 new hospitals by 2030.

“We are working closely with the NHS and the trusts on the development of their building plans. Each of the construction projects will be new hospitals offering brand new state-of-the-art facilities to ensure world-class healthcare delivery to NHS patients and staff by replacing outdated infrastructure.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn – which must use 1,500 steel and timber brackets to support its roof – was not named among the top 40 new hospitals.

He is waiting to find out if he will be selected for a reconstruction, as one of the other eight projects.

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