The NHS in England will receive an extra £5.4 billion over the next six months to support its response to COVID-19 and help tackle waiting lists, the Prime Minister and Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid have announced.
This includes £1 billion to help tackle COVID-19 backlogs plus £500m capital funding for extra theatre capacity and productivity-boosting technologies, £2.8 billion to cover related costs such as enhanced infection control measures to keep staff and patients safe from the virus, £600 million for day-to-day costs and £478 million to continue the hospital discharge programme, freeing up beds.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says: “This funding will go straight to the frontline, to provide more patients with the treatments they need but aren’t getting quickly enough.”
However, there is recognition from both Sajid Javid and NHS Chief Executive, Amanda Pritchard that the waiting lists for routine operations and treatments will get worse before they get better, as people who have put off seeking care during the pandemic start to come forward.
The clarity provided by this announcement has been welcomed by NHS Providers and NHS Confederation, who say the NHS will now be able to concentrate on the huge task it has, facing what is anticipated to be one of the most challenging winters the service has ever faced. However, they stress that the government must now follow-up this short-term boost in funding in its spending review with the extra £10bn a year the NHS will need over the next three years to avoid patient services being cut. Attempts to recover the backlog will also be impeded by major staff shortages.