PM's pledge over new hospitals, including James Paget, to be probed

Prime Minister Boris Johnson adjusts his tie at the start of a Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street,

Prime minister Boris Johnson - Credit: PA

Boris Johnson’s election pledge to build 40 new hospitals - including one in Norfolk - by 2030 is facing a review by the government’s spending watchdog.

The National Audit Office (NAO) is planning a “value for money review” which could consider the impact of spiralling inflation on costs and whether the hospitals will actually be new.

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

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

James Paget University Hospital

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

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

But it has emerged an investigation is pending over the promises the prime minister made during his 2019 election campaign.

Third option for new JPUH

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

The investigation emerged in a letter from NAO comptroller Gareth Davies to Labour's shadow health secretary Wes Streeting.

In the letter, reported by the Observer, Mr Davies responded to Mr Streeting's concerns over delays in getting funding allocated and whether the schemes were really new hospitals.

Labour Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary Wes Streeting

Labour shadow health secretary Wes Streeting - Credit: PA

Mr Davies said: “I can confirm that I already have plans to start a value for money review of the New Hospitals Programme later this year and to report my findings during 2023.

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“In particular, I note your comments about the implications of delay for increasing costs at this time of high inflation and the matter of whether all projects truly meet the classification of ‘new hospitals’.”

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 trusts on the development of their building plans. Each of the building projects will be new hospitals providing brand new, state-of-the-art facilities to ensure world-class provision of healthcare for NHS patients and staff by replacing outdated infrastructure.”

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn - which is having to use 1,500 steel and timber supports to hold up its roof - was not named among the initial 40 new hospitals.

It is waiting to find out whether it will be selected for a re-build, as one of eight further projects.