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The race is on to build “40 new hospitals” by 2030.

That manifesto pledge could be the difference between success and failure in future elections for the Conservative Party, given the public’s adoration of the NHS.

But the task is massive and – as HSJ reports today – construction on the first schemes is unlikely to start before 2023-24.

This is because the Cabinet Office has asked the Department of Health and Social Care to create a commercial strategy and alliance with suppliers, in order to streamline the projects and harness best practice across the 40 schemes.

Until this is in place, no trust will get the green light for their plans. Trusts must also ensure their plans match the DHSC’s requirements, which could lead to further delays. But chiefs insist the programme remains on track overall.

In further news, NHS England’s programme director for the New Hospitals Programme – Craig McWilliam – will leave his position early next year.

Mr McWilliam, who – along with senior responsible officer Natalie Forrest – has been the face of the programme so far at public events – is set to join The Arch Group as their new CEO. He only joined the NHP late last year.

Finally, trusts have been invited to submit bids for eight capital schemes which will be announced next year. Mental health trusts are particularly encouraged to apply.

Fresh start

Debbie Richards will take over in October as CEO of Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust, an organisation in serious need of some stability at the top.

Her predecessor Phil Confue left CPFT in the spring after an external investigation uncovered multiple alleged governance failings, including board members being paid overtime for work during the early stage of the pandemic, and thousands of pounds of trust funding being used to pay for his own academic research project.

Ms Richards will join CPFT from Oxford Health FT, where she is the executive managing director of mental health, learning disabilities and autism services.

She started in the NHS as a mental health social worker and has worked in senior positions within the health service for more than 20 years, including as director of commissioning and delivery at Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

Ms Richards, who was born in Cornwall, said: “Leading a community and mental health trust is my ambition and passion, and this exciting opportunity allows me to return to my roots and steer a trust that is driven to provide the very best care and services.”