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The Capital Investment Programme in Health and Social Services

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Brian Gibbons, Minister for Health and Social Services
The Welsh Assembly Government’s three year budget for 2005/6 to 2007/8 contained a commitment to increase capital spending in the Welsh NHS from £120m in 2005/6 to £309m in 2007/8.

This statement sets out the major purposes to which this new investment is to be directed.

Diagnostics: advances in medical technology mean that new and powerful diagnostic equipment is increasingly necessary to the patient experience.  Over £30m will be provided over the next three years to purchase scanners, pathology equipment and other diagnostic infrastructure.  This sum is additional to the more than £6 million already announced in November 2004, as part of a £30 million boost to capital schemes in Wales.

Telehealth: the Wanless Review highlighted the current role which is played by telemedicine in Wales and the substantial potential which exists for telehealth to contribute to the development of a sustainable system in Wales for the future.    A further £2.7m will be invested in this area, over and above the support which the Assembly Government already provides in the area.

Mental Health:  the modernisation of mental health services in Wales depends upon the replacement of some very old and outdated premises and the reconfiguration of other facilities.  Community-based, non-stigmatised mental health services need to be delivered in settings which promote dignity and provide respect.  £75m will be invested for these purposes over the next three years – an unparalleled level of resources of capital improvements in this area.  

Wanless Configuration:  local Wanless action plans are being consolidated into three regional reconfiguration documents, due to be published sequentially over the remainder of 2005.  Reconfiguration of services is an essential prerequisite of bringing a new balance between demand for, and supply of health and social care in Wales.  The capital programme over the next three years will add more than a further £125m to the £12 million already announced for these purposes in November last year. The building of new hospitals and reorganisation of services has to be carried out over the medium, as well as the short term.  The investment set out for 2005/6 to 2007/8 represents a start, rather than a completion of this process.

Buildings Renewal:  the National Assembly inherited a very substantial backlog of repairs and regeneration needed in existing buildings across large parts of the NHS estate.  Substantial sums in discretionary and Assembly-provided capital have already been devoted to tackling the most urgent regeneration and modernisation requirements. Over the next three years, this investment will rise by a further £34m.

Access:  £32m additional revenue funding has already been announced for 2005/6 in order to support the reduction in waiting time targets within the Welsh NHS.  Access to services, and shorter waiting times, also depend, however, on the extent to which infrastructure on the ground supports such policy objectives.  All the capital expenditure outlined in this statement will help to improve the patient experience of health and social care in Wales.  A specific sum of over £30m will, additionally, be made available during the next three years in order to support a number of specific waiting times capital
investment projects. These will help ensure that the extra revenue being provided to improve access and waiting times can be spent in the most effective way.

The Welsh Assembly Government is committed to renewal and modernisation of health and social care services in Wales, in all their aspects.  The unprecedented levels of additional capital investment set out in this statement,  will provide a major boost to those working in these services and will impact directly upon patients as improvements in buildings, and access to the most up-to-date facilities, become apparent in all parts of Wales.