Nuffield Trust responds to Labour announcement on NHS equipment

Nuffield Trust Chief Executive Thea Stein responds to a new announcement from the Labour Party about investing in CT and MRI scanners.

Press release

Published: 07/10/2023

Commenting on the Labour party’s plans to invest £171m a year in diagnostic equipment in the NHS, Nuffield Trust Chief Executive Thea Stein said:

“Targeting additional funding at vital kit like CT and MRI scanners in the NHS is sensible and it is good to see this approach to investing in equipment over the long-term, which has been historically overlooked in the NHS. 

“However, our analysis shows that the NHS is facing a £5bn shortfall next year compared to the trajectory that the Government committed to under the NHS Long-Term Plan. While it’s right to focus on capital spending, it is likely that far more money will need to be found simply to keep the show on the road over the coming years. What’s more, equipment is only part of the problem: fixing the crumbling buildings in which many of these pieces of kit will be located should also be a priority.

“As well as these scanners, the NHS will need more staff to operate them. The Long-Term Workforce Plan details ambitions to double the numbers of staff who carry out MRI and other scans, partly through a huge expansion in apprenticeships. This is a very stretching target and time will tell as to whether these much-needed staff can be persuaded to join and stay in the NHS. 

“The international data on diagnostic equipment is outdated and may not reflect additional capacity brought in from the private sector to deliver MRI and CT scans. Better data is urgently needed to understand the true picture. Nonetheless, it is likely that the UK is still lagging behind other comparable countries and it is good to see proposals seeking to address this.”