Hospitals across the country will benefit from a share of £700m to expand wards, install modular operating theatres, upgrade outpatient spaces, and introduce new MRI and screening technology in an effort to reduce waiting lists.
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 patients having to stay overnight.
And there will be increased investment in technology to improve patients’ experiences of care and help them to manage their conditions.
Alongside this, the Government has published a document setting out the key challenges facing NHS and social care services this winter, including COVID-19 and the potential threat of variants, the preparations being undertaken to keep people safe and healthy, and the actions members of 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 New Year.
The investment is part of the £5.4billion already announced to support the NHS response to the pandemic in the second half of the year.
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
In total, the Government is investing over £34billion of additional funding in health and social care services this year.
The move comes after the pandemic put unprecedented pressure on the NHS.
To fix this, the NHS needs to be able to offer more appointments, operations, and treatments and new innovative practices must be adopted so patients continue to receive the best-possible care.
The allocations for the £700m include £330m for upgrading NHS facilities, £250m for new technology, and £120m 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 £700m 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 rollout on steroids and delivering the largest flu vaccine programme in UK history.”
The funding will cover the costs of:
- Additional day surgery units to boost activity and avoid patients having to stay overnight or longer
- Additional permanent and modular theatres and surgical hubs in multiple trusts to drive up the number of operations which can be carried out
- Expanding outpatient space for those not staying overnight, to increase the numbers of patients that can be seen
- Upgraded or new imaging equipment, including MRI and mobile breast screening units
In total, 785 schemes have been approved, including the following:
- £13.8m for new wards at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, delivering an expected 164 additional adult inpatient beds across the trust
- £14.4m at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to deliver a new modular facility providing 20 intensive treatment unit beds
- £10.2m to develop a new South Mersey Elective Hub, with two new theatres and recovery areas
- £10m for a day surgery site at Castle Hill Hospital in Hull, which will house four theatres, as well as all supporting services
- £7.1m to build a modular ward at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital with 32 beds
- £5.9m at Bedford Hospital to create 20 flexible multi-purpose outpatient rooms
Professor 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.”