The NHS will receive £6.6bn in Covid funding to cover the extra costs of the pandemic during the first six months of the new financial year, the health secretary has announced.
In a statement to the House of Commons, Matt Hancock said this would be used to tackle a backlog of elective procedures comprising of nearly five million patients.
He added that £594m of the money will also be used towards enabling safe early discharge of patients from hospital.
Mr Hancock said: ‘We’ve backed the NHS at every point in this pandemic, so they can treat patients, stay safe and save lives.
‘And I’m delighted to inform the House that we’re backing them again today with a further £6.6bn of funding for the first half of this coming financial year.’
He stressed this was ‘in addition to the £3bn committed at the Spending Review last November’ and would ‘help the NHS meet the additional costs of Covid, while critically starting the work on the elective recovery ahead’.
‘Due to the pandemic, the waiting list for elective treatment in January was almost 4.6 million, and 304,000 people are waiting more than a year for an operation or diagnostic,’ he acknowledged.
But he added that prior to the pandemic, that backlog had been 1,600 and ‘on track’ to being reduced ‘to zero’.
He added: ‘This backlog of elective work is an inevitable consequence of the pandemic, and I know how NHS colleagues are as determined as I am to put it right.’
The announcement, which made no reference to general practice, comes as the BMA has called on the Government to urgently extend GP Covid funding which is due to expire at the end of this month.