NHS hospitals will receive £145m to be ‘prepared for the winter demand’, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced.
More than £145m will be allocated to NHS trusts in the country in a bid to improve emergency care and cope with the upcoming winter pressures.
The funding comes as the DHSC announced in July it will unlock £36.3m to fund 256 ambulances and help staff to be ready for this winter.
Ensuring sufficient resources
Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘Staff put in a huge amount of work preparing our health service for the challenge of treating more patients over winter and it’s right that we make sure they have the resources they need so people receive the care they deserve.’
The funding will be spent on 81 new schemes, which include:
- Better wards
- Redeveloped A&E services
- Improved same-day emergency care
- Enhanced systems that manage the number of beds in use
- An additional 900 beds
Under the funding programme, the University Hospital of North Midlands will get £8.82m for two additional wards on the Royal Stoke site, while East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust will receive £6.42m to increase emergency care capacities at the William Harvey Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital.
Last November, trusts were given £350m to ‘allow trusts to plan for the winter’, following chancellor Philip Hammond announcement in the 2017 Autumn budget. But many healthcare professionals, such as NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson, argued the money came in too late.
Insufficient bed capacities
Medical staff’s representative body the Society for Acute Medicine (SAM) said that the extra beds will not even ‘scratch the surface’, falling 3,100 short of what was required last year.
SAM president Dr Nick Scriven said: ‘We’re pleased at this positive action as staff on the frontline have been calling for much greater efforts to help better prepare hospitals for the growing pressures of winter for the past three years.
‘Although 900 extra beds are welcome, we note last winter the total number of extra beds in use was 4,000, so this additional investment will need to be combined with efforts to engage with clinicians as to how to prepare effectively.’