£700 million to support NHS this winter

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"We’re taking unprecedented steps to keep people healthy this winter, putting the booster roll-out on steroids, and delivering the largest flu vaccine programme in UK history" - Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

Hospitals across the country will benefit from a share of £700 million to expand wards, install modular operating theatres, upgrade outpatient spaces and MRI and screening technology, to help reduce waiting lists.

The funding, to be split across all regions in England, will help reduce waiting times for patients by expanding the number of operating theatres and beds, including new day surgery units to prevent people staying overnight and investment in technology to improve their experiences of care and help them manage their conditions.

Alongside this, the government is today publishing a document setting out the key challenges facing NHS and social care services this winter, including COVID-19 and the potential threat of variants, preparations being undertaken to keep people safe and healthy, as well as the actions the public can take.

It comes after the COVID-19 booster programme was extended to all adults in England – with everyone aged over 18 to be offered a booster by the end of January – to help protect against the Omicron variant.

Today’s investment is part of the £5.4 billion already announced to support the NHS response to the pandemic in the second half of the year. In total, the government is investing over £34 billion of additional funding in health and social care services this year.

The pandemic put unprecedented pressure on the NHS. To fix this, the NHS needs to be able to offer more appointments, operations and treatments. New, innovative practices must be adopted so patients continue to receive the best possible care.

The allocations for the £700 million announced today include £330 million for upgrading NHS facilities, £250 million for new technology and £120 million for any supporting revenue costs.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid said:

Ahead of what is going to be a difficult winter, we’re putting everything behind our health and care services, so everyone can access the services they need, when they need them.

Our £700 million investment will help more people get treated over the coming months by upgrading wards, operating theatres, and diagnostic kit.

We’re taking unprecedented steps to keep people healthy this winter, putting the booster roll-out on steroids, and delivering the largest flu vaccine programme in UK history.

We can all play our part in the national mission – when you get the call, please get the jab.

The funding will cover the costs of:

  • additional day surgery units to boost activity and avoid patients having to stay overnight or longer
  • additional permanent and modular theatres and surgical hubs in multiple trusts to drive up the number of operations which can be carried out
  • expanding outpatient space for those not staying overnight, to increase the numbers of patients that can be seen
  • upgraded or new imaging equipment, including MRI and mobile breast screening units

In total, 785 schemes have been approved, including the following major projects:

  • £13.8 million for new wards at University Hospitals Birmingham, delivering an expected 164 additional adult inpatient beds across the trust
  • £14.4 million at St George’s Hospitals to deliver a new modular facility providing 20 intensive treatment unit beds
  • £10.2 million to develop a new South Mersey Elective Hub, with 2 new theatres and recovery areas
  • £10 million for a day surgery site in Castle Hill Hospital in Hull, which will house 4 theatres, as well as all supporting services
  • £7.1 million to build a modular ward at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital with 32 beds
  • £5.9 million at Bedford Hospital to create 20 flexible multi-purpose outpatient rooms

Prof Stephen Powis, NHS National Medical Director, said:

NHS staff have pulled out all the stops since the beginning of the pandemic treating more than half a million covid patients, while continuing to perform millions of checks, tests and treatments for non-covid reasons.

There is no doubt that this winter is going to be tough with staff contending with the highest ever number of 999 calls in October and it remains as important as ever that people do not delay seeking help from the NHS if they feel unwell.

So anyone needing help should come forward through NHS 111 online so that staff can help you with the best option for your care, and the NHS is accelerating our COVID booster campaign so please accept your invite when asked, as well taking up the offer of a flu jab to protect you this winter.

While the NHS and Department of Health and Social Care set out its operational guidance to health and social care services in the months preceding winter, today’s publication aims to set out clearly to the public what preparation has been done, what they can do themselves, and what they expect from health and care services this year.

Most importantly, eligible members of the public are urged to get their COVID-19 and flu jabs. This includes booster jabs when called upon, as the programme expands to everyone over 18 with second jabs for 12 to 15 year olds.

The NHS remains open, but anyone in need of urgent care should use the free 24/7 NHS 111 online and phone service to get urgent advice, and A&Es are open and ready to help those with emergency and life-threatening conditions. There are also 24/7 urgent mental health helplines across every mental health trust in England for anyone experiencing or supporting someone through a mental health crisis.

To prepare for this winter, the NHS and national and local government has undertaken a range of actions, which include:

  • working to recruit 18,000 more staff, including nurses, healthcare support workers, medical support workers, alongside making use of temporary staffing and staff banks
  • supporting the workforce with access to health and wellbeing support and mental health hubs, which have helped 30,000 people so far
  • keeping the nation protected against the virus, especially against the new Omicron variant, through vaccination with over 15.5 million boosters delivered in England and the biggest flu vaccination programme in UK history
  • secured new COVID-19 antiviral and therapeutic treatments to help save more lives including Ronapreve, Lagevrio and Paxlovid, in addition to tocilizumab and dexamethasone
  • continuing to provide free lateral flow testing alongside contact tracing, regular asymptomatic testing and the use of self-isolation and quarantine
  • bolstering capacity across urgent and emergency care and the wider NHS, including with a £250 million investment in general practice and the forthcoming Elective Recovery Plan
  • publishing an adult social care winter plan including £388 million to support infection prevention control and £162.5 million for workforce recruitment and retention
  • investing £478 million for support services, rehabilitation and reablement care following discharge from hospital, and ensuring health and social care services are joined up

From April 2022, thanks to the new Health and Social Care Levy, UK-wide healthcare funding will rise by a record £36 billion over the next 3 years. The new funding includes a commitment to ring-fence an additional £8 billion to fund waiting list recovery – the biggest catch-up programme in NHS history.

The levy funding is on top of the government’s previous historic long-term settlement for the NHS, which will see NHS funding increase by £33.9 billion to a total of £148.5 billion by 2023 to 2024, which has been enshrined in law.

Photo licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License.

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