£200m given to boost NHS resilience and care this winter

As winter is known as a tougher period for health services, the government have provided extra funding to prioritise the most vulnerable.

Last week UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak and social care secretary, Steve Barclay, met with clinical leaders and NHS chiefs to accelerate planning to ease pressures in urgent and emergency care while protecting waiting list targets this winter.

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Known as the busiest time for the NHS, winter comes with more dangerous illnesses such as the flu and Covid-19. However, whilst the national health service remains stretched seasonal illnesses are more likely to affect the most vulnerable, which is why the government have provided an additional £200m.

The urgent and emergency care recovery plan announced earlier this year was backed by £1bn 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, ambulance response times are now 27 minutes faster, and there are 2,500 more general and acute beds and 9,700 virtual ward beds available. There are also 1,500 fewer people stuck in hospital even though they have been deemed fit for discharge.

‘Patients can be reassured that I will always back the NHS, so that those who most need help and support will get the care they need,’ said Rishi Sunak. ‘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.’

Mr Sunak added: ‘This extra £200m will bolster the health service during its busiest period, while protecting elective care so we can keep cutting waiting lists.’

As well as government ministers helping to ease pressures on the NHS, £40m has also been invested into the social care sector to improve capacity, strengthen admissions avoidance, and boost discharge rates – targeting the areas with emergency care challenges.

This funding forms part of the £600m social care winter workforce package – with councils in the most challenges integrated care systems now invited to submit proposals.

Local authorities can bid for the £40m to help boost adult social care provision over the winter months. They will be able to use the money to buy more services aimed at keeping people out of hospital as well as more packages of home care which allow people to leave hospital more quickly and build back their independence.

The funding could also be used to enhance the amount of specialist dementia support available in the community, services which also help keep people out of hospital.

Health minister, Helen Whately said: ‘We want to support areas with the greatest need this winter, and this extra £40m will help local authorities boost the support available for people who need it most.

‘It will improve social care capacity, boost discharge rates and avoid unnecessary admissions, freeing up hospital beds and reducing waits for care.’

Image: Stephen Phillips

More on this topic:

Government underfunding adult care providers by £1.5bn a year – report


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