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A Tory pledge to build 40 new hospitals by the end of the decade is in jeopardy, it has been claimed, with just 10 having so far received full planning permission.
The commitment to build the new hospitals by 2030 was one of the key planks of Boris Johnson’s 2019 general election manifesto.
However, the Liberal Democrats said details obtained through parliamentary questions and Freedom of Information requests showed the programme was behind schedule and the target was almost certain to be missed.
The party said that only 10 hospitals had received permission to begin work, while some had not even received outline planning permission.
Their big promises have been shown to not be worth the paper they are written on
Daisy Cooper MP
Lib Dem deputy leader Daisy Cooper said the failure meant communities would be left to struggle on with with crumbling facilities that were badly in need of updating.
“This is truly scandalous. The Conservative Government is on course to break their flagship NHS promise and refuse to admit it,” she said.
“Communities already suffering from dangerously long ambulance waiting times are also left with crumbling hospitals which are falling apart at the seams.
“Time and time again Conservative health ministers are hiding the truth from the country. Their big promises have been shown to not be worth the paper they are written on.”
The Department of Health and Social Care said that it was working with the NHS trusts concerned to ensure an early start to building where possible.
It said the programme groups the different schemes into “cohorts” based on an assessment of their readiness and the extent to which they can benefit from the advantages of delivery through a national programme.
A spokesman said: “We are investing £3.7 billion for the first four years of the New Hospital Programme and remain committed to all schemes that have been announced as part of it.
“Requirements for planning permission are dependent on construction timelines over the decade and we continue to work closely with trusts on their plans.
“We are developing a national approach to constructing new hospitals so schemes can be built more rapidly and ensure value for money.”