The funds will be shared across 187 hospital trusts to increase capacity and tackle waiting lists, and include a £250 million investment in general practice

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The Government has announced £700 million in additional funding to increase capacity and tackle waiting lists across the NHS. The investment will be shared between 785 schemes across 187 hospital trusts, enabling hospitals to expand wards, install modular operating theatres, upgrade outpatient spaces, and increase access to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and other screening technologies.

Announcing the funding, the 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.’  The money ‘will help more people get treated over the coming months by upgrading wards, operating theatres, and diagnostic kit’, he added.

The schemes will include:

  • additional day surgery units to boost activity and avoid patients having to stay overnight or longer
  • additional permanent and modular theatres and surgical hubs to increase the number of operations
  • expanding outpatient space to increase the numbers of patients that can be seen
  • upgraded or new imaging equipment, including MRI and mobile breast screening units.

Approval has been given to 785 schemes already, with major projects including:

  • £13.8 million for new wards at University Hospitals Birmingham, expected to deliver 164 additional adult inpatient beds across the trust
  • £14.4 million at St George’s Hospitals for a new modular facility providing 20 intensive treatment unit beds
  • £10.2 million for a new South Mersey elective surgical hub
  • £10 million for a day surgery site at Castle Hill Hospital in Hull
  • £7.1 million to build a 32-bed modular ward at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital
  • £5.9 million for 20 flexible, multipurpose outpatient rooms at Bedford Hospital.

The additional investment means that, in total, the Government will provide over £34 billion of additional funding for health and social care services this year.

‘There is no doubt that this winter is going to be tough,’ said Professor Stephen Powis, NHS National Medical Director. Staff contended with the highest ever number of 999 calls in October, he reported. ‘It remains as important as ever that people do not delay seeking help from the NHS if they feel unwell.’

The announcement also detailed a range of actions undertaken by the NHS and national and local Government to prepare for the winter, including:

  • recruiting 18,000 more staff, as well as making use of temporary staffing and staff banks
  • offering staff access to health and wellbeing support and mental health hubs
  • promoting the COVID-19 vaccine booster programme, alongside the biggest flu vaccination programme in UK history
  • securing new COVID-19 antiviral and therapeutic treatments, including Ronapreve (casirivimab/imdevimab), Lagevrio (molnupiravir), and Paxlovid (investigative antiviral PF-07321332; ritonavir), in addition to tocilizumab and dexamethasone
  • a £250 million investment in general practice
  • an adult social care winter plan, including £388 million to support infection prevention and control, and £162.5 million for workforce recruitment and retention
  • £478 million for postdischarge support services and rehabilitation.

In addition, in the wake of the discovery of the omicron variant, the COVID-19 booster programme has been extended to all adults in England. Everyone aged 18 years and over will be offered a booster dose by the end of January 2022. Free lateral flow tests will continue to be available and contact tracing will continue, with the use of self-isolation and quarantine measures.

This article originally appeared on Medscape, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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