Health: Extra pounds 100m given to ease casualty waiting time

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The Independent Online
FRANK DOBSON, the Secretary of State for Health, yesterday pledged to end the scandal of National Health Service patients waiting for hours on hospital trolleys, announcing an extra pounds 100m to modernise accident and emergency departments.

In a Commons statement, Mr Dobson, said the money would be spent on upgrading casualty departments, making them more "pleasant and more secure" by next April. Another pounds 150m from the National Lottery's New Opportunities Fund would go on replacement equipment to fight cancer, he said. However, none of the money will be spent on extra staff. Much of the pounds 430m from last week's Budget will instead be spent on admissions wards so patients needing treatment can be moved quickly out of casualty.

Ann Widdecombe, the Tory health spokeswoman, described the initiative as "old money recycled as new announcements".

Mr Dobson also confirmed that up to pounds 30m would be spent on improving direct access to the NHS, including pilot schemes for "walk-in" GP practice services in shopping malls.

The Government was defeated in the Lords over its plans to scrap GP fundholding and replace it with a new system of primary care trusts.