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There has also been a marked improvement in detailed planning approvals over the last year, according to Glenigan, with the value of underlying planning approvals during 2009 41% up on a year earlier.

This should potentially feed through to additional work starting on site over the medium term. However, whilst the rise in planning approvals is an encouraging sign that NHS trusts have been busy developing their investment plans, these schemes will be vulnerable to review and delay.

The deterioration in the public finances is likely to force the re-appraisal of departmental budgets following May’s General Election, while a change of Government would be likely to prompt a fresh re-appraisal of individual trusts’ investment funding and priorities.

The Conservatives have promised that, if elected, health will be one of the few areas to receive real-term spending increases. However, they have rowed back somewhat from earlier commitments to maintain planned spending increases as the scale of the economic crisis has became apparent and, crucially, no specific commitment has been made to sustain the NHS capital budget.

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Source: Glenigan