Richard Foord MP questions Tory pledge to build 40 new hospitals at PMQs

Selaine Saxby, MP for North Devon, referred to him as: “the temporary MP for Tiverton and Honiton”. 

So do we now refer to Simon Jupp as the temporary MP for Exmouth and Sidmouth? – Owl

Lewis Clarke www.devonlive.com 

Progress on the Conservative’s promise to build 40 new hospitals has been put to the Prime Minister by a Devon MP. The pledge was in the 2019 Conservative election manifesto and has been repeated many times by Boris Johnson. When, the pledge was first made – many would have assumed that it referred to brand new hospitals, adding to overall hospital capacity.

But in August 2021, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) sent out guidance to NHS trusts on “key media lines” to use when responding to questions about the pledge. It defined a “new” hospital in three ways: A whole new hospital on a new site or current NHS land, a major new clinical building on an existing site or a new wing of an existing hospital, a major refurbishment and alteration of all but the building frame or main structure.

At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, February 22, Liberal Democrat MP for Tiverton & Honiton, Richard Foord said: Of the 40 promised new hospitals referred to by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Ed Davey), 11 are in the south-west of England. Three of them—in Barnstaple, Dorchester and Taunton—surround my constituency, but none has planning permission. It has been reported that staff at Eastbourne District General Hospital were told that their town would not get a new hospital, and that it was a “barefaced lie”. Given that the Prime Minister claims his mandate rests on a manifesto that promised 40 new hospitals, when will we see them?”

In response, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “The Government are committed to building 40 new hospitals as part of the new hospital programme. In the south-west, eight out of the 11 schemes do have full outline planning permission approved, and the remaining three schemes would not be expected to have planning permission at this stage, due to when they are due to be delivered. We are working with the trust to go through that process, so everything is on track, and we will bring those hospitals to the people in the south-west.”

Speaking afterwards, Mr Foord said: “People across the West Country feel let down by the dire state of our local health services. It’s clear that we need change and fast. This Government is failing our NHS and local health services up and down the country.

“For too long towns and villages across our region have been taken for granted; ambulance crews are stretched to breaking point, local GPs and dentists are under immense pressure, and A&E waiting times are leaving patients waiting hours for urgent care.

“In North Devon the choice at the next election is clear, 4 more years of Conservative failure or Ian Roome who will be a local champion for the area and stand up for the issues people are facing. People who know Ian will know his great track record on that front.”

Commenting on the lack of progress on the new hospital promised to North Devon in 2019, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate Ian Roome said: “Families right across our area are worried sick about the state of our local health services. We need change.

“For too long North Devon has been taken for granted. Ambulance response times are amongst the worst in the country, GPs are under immense pressure and A&E wait times are often out of hand.

“While our NHS staff continue to work extremely hard, the Conservatives and their delegate in North Devon have let the NHS crisis spiral out of control. Now, they’re failing to deliver the new hospitals they promised and making people wait hours for an ambulance or months for urgent cancer treatment.”

“No doubt they’ll show us a pretty picture or a complex chart. But what they won’t show us is our new hospital, because they can’t – it simply doesn’t exist.”

Selaine Saxby, MP for North Devon, said: “If the local Lib Dems and the temporary MP for Tiverton and Honiton actually spoke and worked with our NHS Trust, they would be aware of their ambitious plans for redevelopment as part of the New Hospitals Programme (NHP) that is supported by the Department of Health and Social Care.

“The Trust submitted its Strategic Outline Case (SOC) for the NHP investment in July 2021. The case describes a vision for North Devon District Hospital (NDDH) with facilities capable of providing modern and digitally connected care to meet the healthcare needs of the local population. The redevelopment plans also include significantly improved health and wellbeing facilities at NDDH, which will support the Trust’s aims to attract staff and become a great place to work.

“The SOC outline a phased approach to development, to allow the Trust to be flexible and responsive. NDDH has a track record which demonstrates that it delivers quickly and makes the best use of national capital funding when it becomes available for estate redevelopment – recent examples include the new modular ‘Jubilee’ ward for planned orthopaedic surgery to help address waiting lists, built using Elective Recovery Fund money, and the recent diagnostic developments, including a new CT scanner suite.

“The SOC describes an estates solution to a digitally enabled future model of care. Phase 0 of the programme was investment into a shared electronic patient record that is the platform for our merged Trust to deliver patient modern care that empowers patients. This launched in North Devon in July 2022, making NDDH one of the first hospitals within the NHP to implement this mew system.

The SOC indicated a build window of 2025-2027 with enabling works in 2024. The Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England’s central programme team continue to work closely with Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust on the development of their scheme. To date, Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has received £14.6million in funding for their scheme, £10million of which funded the implementation of a new digital system, including the roll out of electronic patient records across the whole of Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

“The Trust has received wider capital funding, including £19.6million from our Elective Recovery Targeted Investment Fund announced in September 2021 for estate works and digital initiatives, as well as £6.7million in 2020-21 and £10.7million in 2021-22 from the A&E upgrades scheme.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.