The hospitals all have a considerable amount of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), a lightweight type of concrete with a limited lifespan, after which it deteriorates sharply.
Officials have asked the government to prioritize reconstruction of these hospitals given the risks they pose to patients and staff.
They said the full extent of the dangers had only come to light since the announcement of the new hospital program in 2020.
“As a result of this reprioritisation, as well as the rising cost of construction materials, up to eight plans originally planned to be built by the end of the decade will now be completed beyond 2030,” officials said.
In the House of Commons, Mr Barclay pushed for the pledge in the manifesto to be fulfilled, albeit with a different list of 40 hospitals.
“The cohort schemes are all continuing, but the commitment to completion by 2030 applies to the 40 schemes set out today. This fulfills our commitment in the manifesto to build 40 hospitals by 2030,” he said.
He added that any construction programs that are delayed will still begin work within the next two years.
“They will be part of an ongoing program where not all work will be completed by 2030, and this is a reflection of the disruption two years of the Covid pandemic have caused, as well as pressures from construction inflation,” he said.
‘Just not going to happen’
However, Wes Streeting, the shadow secretary of health, said: “I really expected the secretary of state to come to the house today and be candid about the fact that whatever the former prime minister promised in 2019, the promise to build 40 new hospitals 2030 just isn’t going to happen.
“It was a simple commitment, 40 new hospitals. Except we’ve since become comfortable with the idea that they weren’t new, and amazingly, they weren’t even new hospitals. Since that general election, we’ve had more new health secretaries than new hospitals.
“A promise was made to people in these places and the Secretary of State has the audacity to repeat that promise today, knowing for certain that even if the will is there and even if the money is there, I practically do not see or understand how he will could create 40 new hospitals by 2030.”
Ministers said on Thursday a record £20bn would be spent on new hospital infrastructure.
Two hospitals in the program have already been completed and five are under construction. Officials added that more than 20 will be underway or completed by the end of next year.
Mr Barclay said the five hospitals in “urgent need of repair” were prioritized so that patients and staff could benefit from large new hospital buildings equipped with the latest technology.
“Furthermore, I am strengthening our New Hospital Program by confirming today that it is expected to represent more than £20bn in new investment in hospital infrastructure,” he said.
“As we approach the 75th anniversary of our fantastic NHS, this additional investment will ensure it can look after patients and reduce waiting lists for decades to come, so they get the treatment they need faster.”
Officials also pledged an ongoing program of capital investment in hospital infrastructure to develop new hospitals beyond 2030, allowing more than 40 new hospitals to be built in the longer term.
‘Disgracefully broken promise’
Daisy Cooper, the Liberal Democrats’ health spokeswoman, said: “This is going to be an outrageously broken promise to communities across the country. Frankly, 2030 is pie in the air.
“There is still no sign of these new hospitals and today confirms to some that there will be no spades in the ground for years to come. What a farce.”
Nigel Edwards, the CEO of think tank The Nuffield Trust, said: “This is a welcome renewed commitment to the ailing new hospital program, which appears to be moving extremely slowly.
“It should help NHS trusts get started with replacing derelict buildings, including tackling unsafe temporary roofs, and provide better and more modern facilities for patients.
“However, it is unclear whether the funding amounts quoted today represent new money added to the NHS capital budget.
“If there’s no money left, we shouldn’t make the mistake of plundering funds that are also urgently needed to upgrade inadequate NHS IT or tackle the backlog of overdue maintenance.”
‘Impossible to continue patching up our oldest facilities’
Meanwhile, Professor Tim Orchard, CEO of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust which runs St Mary’s, said redevelopment of the hospital was urgent.
“We continue to explore, with the support of the New Hospital Programme, a range of practical funding and design options to see a full rebuild of St Hammersmith Hospitals – by 2030,” he said.
He added that delays could make it “impossible to continue patching up our oldest facilities”.
“As a provider of London’s busiest major trauma center and host to the NHS’s largest biomedical research centre, that would be enormously detrimental to the health and healthcare of hundreds of thousands of people,” he said.