The chief executive of NHS England has said this is an “ideal moment” to consider upgrading primary care premises.
Speaking to MPs at the House of Commons health select committee, Simon Stevens said: “Given the cost of Government, long-term guilds are now the lowest they've been, it would be an ideal moment to consider an upgrade in NHS infrastructure.”
Stevens was giving evidence to the committee about the issues surrounding NHS funding of the 44 Sustainability and Transformation Plans, for which commissioners are prioritising funds requested to upgrade primary care premises.
He said: “There are two or three different types of capital requests that we are getting out of the STP process. One is dealing with old buildings that require maintenance that we have got around the country, and I think it is an open question as to whether or not we would be able to sort that out.
'That will all depend on whether or not the capital does become available over and above what is currently pencilled in.
'Secondly we have got investment that people want to make so as to be able to free up lots of other efficiencies, moving out of poorly located or inappropriately designed facilities and beefing up primary care at scale and so on.'
Stevens added that NHS England is also fielding requests for funds to help areas “ride the digital agenda as well”.
However, he said in his opinion, more money should be spent on upgrading premises.
He said: “So we are sort of working through those three and then we are going to have to rank where we either have a mission-critical need to do some repairs, because of the CQC or a health and safety issue.
“And for the other if it is a service redesign issue we will just have to rank them by how shovel-ready they are and how much of a payback they get us.
“But, obviously, my personal point of view is that given the cost of Government long-term guilds are now the lowest they've been it would be an ideal moment to consider an upgrade in NHS infrastructure.”
Stevens said NHS England is three quarters of the way through face-to-face discussions with all 44 areas, after which they will “informally rank” them and then work through what the aggregate of all the proposals amounts to.
The plans will be finalised by July 29 before being approved by NHS England in October.