Hospitals from across the Uk are to benefit from £700 million targeted investment for 785 schemes across 187 hospital trusts to increase capacity and tackle waiting lists.
The British government has set out plan to addresses NHS and social care challenges this winter including responding to high demand alongside COVID-19.
The huge share of £700 million will expand wards, install modular operating theatres, upgrade outpatient spaces and MRI and screening technology, to help reduce waiting lists.
The British governemnt said the funding, to be split across all regions in England, will help reduce waiting times for patients by expanding the number of operating theatres and beds, including new day surgery units to prevent people staying overnight and investment in technology to improve their experiences of care and help them manage their conditions.
Alongside this, the government is today publishing a document setting out the key challenges facing NHS and social care services this winter, including COVID-19 and the potential threat of variants, preparations being undertaken to keep people safe and healthy, as well as the actions the public can take.
It comes after the COVID-19 booster programme was extended to all adults in England – with everyone aged over 18 to be offered a booster by the end of January – to help protect against the Omicron variant.
The government said today’s investment is part of the £5.4 billion already announced to support the NHS response to the pandemic in the second half of the year. In total, the government is investing over £34 billion of additional funding in health and social care services this year.
The pandemic put unprecedented pressure on the NHS. To fix this, the NHS needs to be able to offer more appointments, operations and treatments. New, innovative practices must be adopted so patients continue to receive the best possible care.
The allocations for the £700 million announced today include £330 million for upgrading NHS facilities, £250 million for new technology and £120 million for any supporting revenue costs.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid said:
‘Ahead of what is going to be a difficult winter, we’re putting everything behind our health and care services, so everyone can access the services they need, when they need them.
Our £700 million investment will help more people get treated over the coming months by upgrading wards, operating theatres, and diagnostic kit.
We’re taking unprecedented steps to keep people healthy this winter, putting the booster roll-out on steroids, and delivering the largest flu vaccine programme in UK history.
We can all play our part in the national mission – when you get the call, please get the jab.
The funding will cover the costs of additional day surgery units to boost activity and avoid patients having to stay overnight or longer’.
The government said it would also spend £13.8 million for new wards at University Hospitals Birmingham, delivering an expected 164 additional adult inpatient beds across the trust.
Prof Stephen Powis, NHS National Medical Director, said:
‘NHS staff have pulled out all the stops since the beginning of the pandemic treating more than half a million covid patients, while continuing to perform millions of checks, tests and treatments for non-covid reasons.
There is no doubt that this winter is going to be tough with staff contending with the highest ever number of 999 calls in October and it remains as important as ever that people do not delay seeking help from the NHS if they feel unwell.
While the NHS and Department of Health and Social Care set out its operational guidance to health and social care services in the months preceding winter, today’s publication aims to set out clearly to the public what preparation has been done, what they can do themselves, and what they expect from health and care services this year.
Most importantly, eligible members of the public are urged to get their COVID-19 and flu jabs. This includes booster jabs when called upon, as the programme expands to everyone over 18 with second jabs for 12 to 15 year olds.
The NHS remains open, but anyone in need of urgent care should use the free 24/7 NHS 111 online and phone service to get urgent advice, and A&Es are open and ready to help those with emergency and life-threatening conditions. There are also 24/7 urgent mental health helplines across every mental health trust in England for anyone experiencing or supporting someone through a mental health crisis.
To prepare for this winter, the NHS and national and local government has undertaken a range of actions, which includes keeping the nation protected against the virus, especially against the new Omicron variant, through vaccination with over 15.5 million boosters delivered in England and the biggest flu vaccination programme in UK.