Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to announce an additional funding package of £3bn for the NHS, as part of the latest spending review, to help the health service deliver winter pressures and tackle significant treatment backlogs.
Across the NHS, thousands of treatments and operations have been delayed as a result of Covid-19, necessary restrictions to fight the virus and the reallocation of resource. As the NHS looks to reduce these delays in the coming months, the additional one-year funding will serve as a major boost.
Each year, the NHS is usually awarded additional funds to help it through winter pressures. However, this figure is typically around a sixth of the allocated funding this time around – the highest previous pay-out across the last 10 years was £700m in 2014/15.
In September, a reported 140,000 people were waiting a year for treatment.
Back in February, before the coronavirus pandemic became widespread, the figure was just 1,500 patients.
The additional £3bn funding only applies to England, but the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are all expected to receive equivalent funding.
In response to the statement, NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “As well as caring for seriously ill and vulnerable coronavirus patients, our hardworking nurses, doctors, therapists and other NHS staff are looking after many other patients, some of whose care has been disrupted by these two large waves of Covid-19.
“This extra funding will therefore rightly enable them to tackle longer waits for care by carrying out up to one million extra checks, scans and additional operations.
“And because Covid-19 takes a mental as well as physical toll, it’s particularly important that we will be able to continue to expand mental health services too.”