Hewitt: Govt is not closing hospitals

Hewitt has highlighted NHS investment
Hewitt has highlighted NHS investment

The government is investing in new hospitals, not closing them, the health secretary Patricia Hewitt insisted today.

She was speaking as the Department of Health launched a map of new NHS facilities across England. For the first time it reveals the extent of investment in NHS infrastructure, with 116 new hospitals and 188 primary care facilities across the country.

Every region has seen new hospital building, GP surgeries, health centres and clinics but the bulk of the £10.6 billion investment has been in the most deprived areas.

Ms Hewitt said: "This map clearly illustrates that the NHS is opening hospitals, not closing them. These developments represent our commitment to the biggest hospital building programme in the history of the NHS."

The Conservatives are running a campaign to "stop Brown's NHS cuts" and claim that 81 community hospitals are threatened with closure or cutbacks.

However, the health secretary claimed that Labour has exceeded the original target in the NHS Plan of building 100 new hospitals.

She added: "Combined with the new surgeries, health centres and clinics, this government has changed the face of the NHS today and laid firm foundations for the NHS for the next fifty years.

"What this means for patients today is that in addition to being treated in bright, modern facilities, they are also being seen more quickly and helping us to reach the 18 week waiting time target by the end of 2008."

The map also highlights seven new PFI projects, worth £1.5 million, which have been approved for affordability at a local level and can now progress to the next stage.

The PFI projects are to be completed in; Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS, Bristol north and south Gloucester PCTs, Tees and north east Yorkshire NHS Trust, Peterborough NHS Trust, north Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, mid Yorkshire NHS Hospitals Trust, and mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust.


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