Failing to capitalise: capital spending in the NHS


This report from the UK think tank The Health Foundation analyses the NHS capital budget and compares it to international averages.

The capital budget of the Department of Health and Social Care is used to finance long-term investments in the NHS in England. This includes spending on new buildings, equipment and IT, improvements to and some maintenance of NHS trusts, and research and development.

In this briefing, we analyse trends in the capital budget, comparing the UK with international averages. Using annual data from all NHS trusts in England, we then focus on trends in the capital spending of NHS trusts to analyse where money has been spent and where there are areas of need.

We also analyse the implications of recent capital spending, with a specific focus on NHS trusts’ maintenance backlog, and conclude with a discussion of the trends in capital spending and capital levels, and implications and recommendations for future health care.

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