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White elephant or anchor institution? It’s time for a debate on the future hospital

The government has pledged to build 40 hospitals. Now is the moment to consider what sort of future we want for our healthcare

By Robert Ede  

Photo: Richard Wayman / Alamy Stock Photo

The government’s “biggest in a generation” pledge to build 40 new hospitals was a centrepiece of its 2019 election campaign—even when the claim came under fierce scrutiny. Before the events of 2020, the government had discerned the public appetite for better healthcare facilities. 

Boris Johnson’s administration is now planning to turn its campaign slogan into a reality—and so the public, policymakers and healthcare professionals alike should consider what exactly we want to achieve from the most significant hospital investment in two decades. Spending the money is (relatively) easy. Transforming our health infrastructure is harder. 

The programme has…

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