The NHS in England are expected to receive an extra £5.4bn over the next six months to support their response to Covid-19 and help tackle waiting lists.
This includes an extra £1bn to help tackle the Covid-19 backlog, delivering routine surgery and treatments for patients; and £2.8bn to cover related costs such as enhanced infection control measures to protect staff and patients from the virus. As part of this, £478m will be allocated to the hospital discharge programme, helping free up beds.
The additional £5.4bn funding brings the government’s total investment to health services for Covid-19 this year to over £34bn, with £2bn in total covering the elective backlog.
Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said: “The NHS was there for us during the pandemic - but treating Covid patients has created huge backlogs.
“This funding will go straight to the frontline, to provide more patients with the treatments they need but aren’t getting quickly enough.
“We will continue to make sure our NHS has what it needs to bust the Covid backlogs and help the health service build back better from the worst pandemic in a century.”
Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “The NHS has been phenomenal as it has faced one of the biggest challenges in its history.
“Today’s additional £5.4 billion funding over the next 6 months is critical to ensuring the health service has what it needs to manage the ongoing pandemic and helping to tackle waiting lists.
“We know waiting lists will get worse before they get better as people come forward for help, and I want to reassure you the NHS is open, and we are doing what we can to support the NHS to deliver routine operations and treatment to patients across the country.”
According to analysis carried out by the Institute of Fiscal Studies, the waiting list for routine operations and treatments such as hip replacements and eye cataract surgery, could potentially increase to 13 million.
While today’s extra £1bn funding is thought to help reduce this number, waiting lists are believed to rise before they improve. This follows on from more people who didn’t seek care over the pandemic, coming forward now.
The government has also invested £500m in capital funding for extra theatre capacity and productivity-boosting technology, to increase the number of surgeries able to take place.
Amanda Pritchard, NHS Chief Executive, said: “This funding provides welcome certainty for the NHS, which has pulled out all the stops to restore services, while caring for thousands of seriously ill Covid patients requiring hospital treatment during the toughest summer on record.
“This additional investment will enable the NHS to deliver more checks, scans and procedures as well as helping to deal with the ongoing costs and pressures of the pandemic, as the NHS heads in to winter.”
The NHS also recently launched a £160m initiative to tackle waiting lists. This aims to accelerate the recovery of routine treatments and operations, through trialling of new ways of working, including a high-volume cataract service, one stop testing facilities where people can get tests done quickly and efficiently, greater access to specialist advice for GPs and pop-up clinics so patients can be seen and discharged closer to home.
This comes after the £3bn announcement at the Spending Review 2020. It is also additional to the historic long-term settlement for the NHS, which is enshrined in law and will see NHS funding increase by £33.9bn by 2023 to 2024. This forms part of the NHS Long Term Plan.
There are reports that this funding will come from an increase in National Insurance, with social care to be funded once a patient reaches the cap cost. This is yet to be confirmed during a cabinet meeting today.
Zarah Sultana MP has voiced concern over where this funding will potentially come from, in a tweet:
"Social care should be modelled on the NHS: Free at the point of use, accessible to everyone who needs it.
"That should be funded by tax rises on the super-rich and big businesses, not by raising taxes on the working class."