Ambulance driving through snow depicting the NHS winter pressures

Govt announces £200m NHS winter resilience package

The NHS is set to benefit from an additional £200m of investment from the government, in anticipation of winter pressures, the Department of Health and Social Care has announced.

The news comes after government officials met health leaders yesterday to discuss the busy months ahead and the best possible course forward.

The government has indicated the funding will accelerate plans to cut waiting lists while also ensuring patients are seen as quickly as possible.

“This extra £200 million will bolster the health service during its busiest period, while protecting elective care so we can keep cutting waiting lists,” said the Prime Minister.

The cash injection will be supplemented by another £40m to strengthen footing in the social care sector.

“It will improve social care capacity, boost discharge rates and avoid unnecessary admissions, freeing up hospital beds and reducing waits for care,” according to health minister, Helen Whately.

While the investment was welcomed by the NHS Confederation, the organisation’s chief executive questioned how much impact it will have this close to winter.

Matthew Taylor said: “But realistically many of our members may question how much impact this will have given the close proximity to winter, and also what good this will do against the backdrop of industrial action estimated to have already cost in the region of £1bn.

“There is a clear need for honesty around the extent of the financial challenge health leaders face, not just in terms of the costs of ongoing industrial action, but in the efficiency savings they are being asked to make in an extremely difficult financial environment.”

He continued: “The risk is that this money is simply absorbed to cover existing and escalating costs elsewhere, with patients seeing little benefit in terms of day-to-day care, waiting lists or performance.”

Radiographers are set to join junior and senior doctors in a walkout later this month; the cost of which will likely surpass £200m, highlighted Taylor – essentially negating the effects of this investment.

“There remain serious challenges to be resolved, the most pressing of which is industrial action, and simply wishing it away will not make that happen. We need to see this situation settled as it has already gone too far.”

Image credit: iStock

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