Most of the new hospitals promised by the Tories in their 2019 manifesto are unlikely to be finished by the next general election, it is claimed.
Forty new sites for the NHS were pledged by Boris Johnson as he fought the last general election, vowing to have them completed by the end of this decade.
But the programme has been hit by delays, with hospitals set to be finished later than planned or still waiting for the go-ahead, it is claimed. The government insists 48 hospitals will nonetheless be ready by 2030.
A Sky News investigation found 80 per cent of the hospitals pledged are either still waiting for a completion date or have one no earlier than 2024 – the year of the next general election.
Seven of the 40 have not been given a completion date yet, according to Freedom of Information requests, while 25 others are not expected to be finished until after the next national vote.
The goalposts have shifted for some new hospitals, including the Royal Cornwall Hospital Children’s hospital, which is now expected to be completed at least two years later than originally planned, according to the broadcaster.
Others are reportedly waiting for their business case to be approved, such as Leeds NHS Trust, which is expecting a major new clinical building.
“We don’t have an actual start date yet because we are waiting for the green light from government for the business case on the overall development,” Julian Hartley, the Leeds Teaching Hospitals chief executive, told Sky News.
Last month, the government’s spending watchdog said it was planning a “value for money review” into the scheme to build 40 new hospitals that could consider increasing costs due to spiralling inflation and whether the hospitals will in fact be new.
The scheme has faced criticism that new units or refurbishments were being pitched as “new hospitals”.
Another watchdog previously called the programme “unachievable”.
Wes Streeting, shadow health secretary, told Sky News: “There’s no sign of these 40 new hospitals. The only place they seem to exist is in Boris Johnson’s imagination.”
Steve Barclay, the health secretary, said: “We will deliver 48 hospitals across England by 2030 and we have been working tirelessly with NHS partners on their building plans.
“The hospitals will provide patients and staff with brand new, state-of-the-art facilities, ensuring people get the right care when and where they need it.”
He said six of these hospitals were under construction and one had been completed.
Downing Street has been approached for comment.