The government is investing £200 million to boost resilience in the NHS and help patients get the care they need as quickly as possible this winter.
The new funding announced today comes after the Prime Minister and Health and Social Care Secretary met clinical leaders and NHS chiefs yesterday to drive forward planning to ease pressures in urgent and emergency care while protecting waiting list targets this winter.
The Urgent and Emergency Care Recovery Plan announced earlier this year was backed by £1 billion 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, Category 2 ambulance response times are now 27 minutes faster, there are 2,500 more general and acute beds and 9,700 virtual ward beds available, and there are 1,500 fewer people stuck in hospital when they are medically fit to be discharged.
The government remains committed to cutting waiting lists – there has been good progress made on the Elective Recovery Plan with 2 year and 18 month waits eliminated so far.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Steve Barclay, said:
“I know winter brings immense challenges for the NHS which is why we are working with health leaders to make sure we are prepared earlier.
We are working closely with trusts to see how we can continue to use technology and new ways of working to strengthen health and social services, alongside the thousands of new hospital beds and hundreds of new ambulances we are already providing.”
The government is creating extra capacity, with currently 119 community diagnostic centres (CDCs) and 94 surgical hubs open – helping to deliver thousands more checks, scans, tests and operations. As well as being more convenient for patients, CDCs drive efficiency across the NHS by shielding elective diagnostic services from wider hospital pressures.
Last year, the government established the Elective Recovery Taskforce, made up of academics and experts from the NHS and independent sector, to look for ways to go further to bust the Covid backlogs and reduce waiting times for patients. It has since published an implementation plan, including reviewing the use of the independent sector in training junior NHS staff.