The Government has announced it is investing £200m to boost resilience in the NHS and help patients get the care they need as quickly as possible this winter.
The funding comes after the Prime Minister and Health and Social Care Secretary met clinical leaders and NHS chiefs to drive forward planning to ease pressures in urgent and emergency care while protecting waiting list targets this winter.
Winter is the busiest time for the NHS, with increased pressures from flu, COVID-19, and seasonal illness – combined this year with ongoing pressure from industrial action.
The urgent and emergency care recovery plan announced earlier this year was backed by £1billion to boost capacity in the health system by providing 5,000 additional beds, 800 new ambulances, and 10,000 virtual wards.
As a result, significant progress has been made.
Compared to July 2022:
- Category 2 ambulance response times are now 27 minutes faster
- There are 2,500 more general and acute beds and 9,700 virtual ward beds available
- There are 1,500 fewer people stuck in hospital when they are medically fit to be discharged
That comes on top of the primary care recovery plan which is freeing up 15 million GP appointments to help end the 8am rush.
Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said: “Winter is the most-challenging time for the health service, which is why we’ve been planning for it all year – with huge government investment to fund new ambulances, beds, and virtual wards.
“This extra £200m will bolster the health service during its busiest period, while protecting elective care so we can keep cutting waiting lists.”
Health and Social Care Secretary, Steve Barclay, added: “I know winter brings immense challenges for the NHS, which is why we are working with health leaders to make sure we are prepared earlier.
“We are working closely with trusts to see how we can continue to use technology and new ways of working to strengthen health and social services, alongside the thousands of new hospital beds and hundreds of new ambulances we are already providing.”
I know winter brings immense challenges for the NHS, which is why we are working with health leaders to make sure we are prepared earlier
Alongside this, £40m is being invested to improve social care capacity, strengthen admissions-avoidance services, and boost discharge rates – targeting the areas with the greatest urgent and emergency care challenges.
The funding forms part of the £600m social care winter workforce package, with local authorities in the most-challenged integrated care systems now invited to submit proposals.
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of NHS Confederation, said: “Extra resource for the NHS is always welcome and this £200m investment, which we are assured by the Department of Health and Social Care is new and additional money, should help NHS leaders in their efforts to prepare for and mitigate against the impacts of what will be a seriously-difficult and challenging winter period.
“The key issue now is getting the funding to local systems as early as possible so they can use it most effectively.”