Emergency treatment: A&E wards given £500m to avert winter care crisis – but Labour says it's not good enough
PM's announcement of extra cash for two years 'fails to tackle wider problems', say Labour
England’s struggling accident and emergency wards will get a £500m bailout to avert a winter crisis in urgent care, the Prime Minister has announced.
Waiting times at A&E hit nine-year highs earlier this year and an unprecedented number of trusts missed their targets in 2012. Doctors have warned of a coming crisis this winter, and MPs recently said that A&E wards would struggle to cope with a major flu pandemic.
The money will be allocated to the NHS trusts which have struggled the most, to help them cope during the two winters before the general election in May 2015. The Department of Health (DoH) is close to deciding how to allocate the first £250m fund for winter 2013/14, based on plans from Urgent Care Boards around the country.
It emerged in May that the health secretary Jeremy Hunt was eager to announce a bailout fund of between £300m and £400m, when leaked emails revealed that officials at the DoH had been forced to dissuade him from doing so.
The Government is understood to be anxious to avoid long queues at A&E next winter, in the run up to a general election campaign in which the Coalition’s stewardship of the NHS is set to be a key confidence issue for voters.
A source at the DoH said the money had been secured through “efficiencies” in the departmental budget, including savings on IT and admin costs. The money is separate from existing NHS commissioning budgets meaning no other services will lose funding.
“The additional funding will go to hospitals where the pressure will be greatest, with a focus on practical measures that relieve pinch points in local services,” David Cameron said. “By acting now, we can ensure doctors, nurses and NHS staff have the support they need and patients are not left facing excessive waits for treatment.”
Mike Farrar, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents all NHS service providers, said that the money was useful, but not a “longer-term solution”.
“These payments will be useful in the short term, but we need the system working together to tackle the challenges we are facing…One of the things many of our members are telling us is that it is vital they receive funding for winter pressures earlier in the year, so they can plan and respond effectively, rather than catching up with themselves once the floodgates have opened.”
Jamie Reed, Labour’s shadow health minister said that the fund failed to address wider problems in the NHS, including staffing problems.
"Today's announcement fails to mention the issue patients really care about - nurses on hospital wards,” he said. “Hospitals are running without enough staff, yet thousands of nursing jobs have been axed on David Cameron's watch. It's time he got a grip.”
The beleaguered NHS 111 non-emergency telephone line will also receive a £15m winter funding boost, the DoH said. The phone line has been blamed for increasing pressures on A&E, sending patients to hospital unnecessarily.
The money will be used differently at individual trusts. Health officials said it could be used to extend opening ours at walk-in centres, provide extra beds and appoint staff with specialist training in linking up hospitals with social care services, to reduce the number of frail elderly people making repeat visits to A&E.
Oxford is the least affordable city in the UK, where houses cost 11 times local salaries
Swarm of killer bees sting woman 1,000 times
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Oil slicks in South China Sea ‘not from missing jet’, officials say
Steve Irwin’s final words: Cameraman present at death opens up about deadly stingray attack for the first time
Oscar Pistorius trial: Athlete repeatedly throws up as court hears 'graphic details' of Reeva Steenkamp's autopsy
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
The quiet diplomat: Catherine Ashton - recognised and admired in all the world’s troubled countries, yet ridiculed at home
- 1 Oxford is the least affordable city in the UK, where houses cost 11 times local salaries
- 2 Australian man Rod Sommerville reacts to bite from deadly snake by reaching for cold beer
- 3 North Korea elections: Kim Jong-un wins 100% of the vote
- 4 David Cameron resorts to paying for Facebook fans because not enough people like him
- 5 Steve Irwin’s final words: Cameraman present at death opens up about deadly stingray attack for the first time
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: Our client is a leading digital agency bu...
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Charter Selection: Global leader in its respective ...
£130 - £161 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Do you have a qualificatio...
£6720 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: The school is much la...