Mr Johnson raised his hospital target in his Conservative Party Conference speech with the assertion that “this government is pressing on with its plan for 48 hospitals. Count them. That’s the eight already underway, and then 40 more between now and 2030.”
At first sight the Prime Minister’s sudden lift from the much-repeated “40 new hospitals” claim to “48 hospitals” seems bizarre. However, it offers helpful insight into the contorted workings of his hospital construction scheme.
As Mr Johnson explained, there were “eight already underway.” This was a reference to the 8 hospitals that were already set to be built, renovated and/or improved before he took office. Four of these were currently “in build” and the remaining four awaiting the final approval on their plans.
Then there were the six hospitals which constituted phase one (HIP1) of the Health Infrastructure Programme. These had already received £2.7bn in funding.
There are the 26 supposed hospitals in phase 2 (HIP2), which are set to be worked on between 2025-2030, all of which have collectively received just £100 million ‘seed funding’ from the Treasury, (for a useful exposition see BBC Reality Check).
Finally, there are the 8 new schemes which the Government is yet to choose and announce, though the process for this is currently underway. We calculate that no more than 15 of the projects actually constitute completely “new” hospitals - and for clarity publish a full list of the hospitals below. The remaining schemes are rebuilds/renovations/improvements on existing sites.
Less than half the much vaunted 48 “new” hospitals are actually new builds. As with Boris Johnson’s statement about offshore wind power, or his assertion that Britain could “prosper mightily” without a trade deal with the EU, there was no substance behind this claim about new hospitals. Boris Johnson’s statement to Conservative Party conference about his plans for hospital building was a flagrant lie.
The official list of 40 “new” hospitals published by the Department of Health and Social Care can be viewed here.