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Treasury diverts £500m to ease A&E winter pressures

The Department of Health is to spend £500m propping up accident and emergency services in the most pressured health economies between now and the next general election.

The Treasury will release £250m this year to ease “winter pressures” in A&E departments in round 50 of the highest risk health economies in England, with a further £250m in the following year.

The new funding will be targeted at “pinch points” in local services, the Department of Health said in a statement.

It identified several examples of local initiatives that ministers thought should receive part of the funding.

These included minimising A&E attendances and admissions from care homes by appointing hospital specialists in charge of joining up services for the elderly, as well as seven day social work, increased hours at walk-in centres and extended pharmacy services.

The DH said A&E departments were currently performing at their usual level for the summer period, with over 95% of patients seen within four hours since the end of April.

Prime minister David Cameron said: “While A&E departments are performing well this summer and at a level we would expect for this time of year, I want the NHS to take action now to prepare for the coming winter.

“By acting now, we can ensure doctors, nurse and NHS staff have the support they need and patients are not left facing excessive waits for treatment. “

NHS England medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh is also leading a review into the demands on urgent and emergency care and how the NHS should respond, which is expected to report in the autumn.

Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “A&E services are at breaking point.

“We need significant investment to help ease the overwhelming pressure services and staff are under, however this needs to be continuous funding rather than a short term fix. We also need clarity on where and how this money will be spent to ensure it has the greatest benefit on a local level.”

He added: “We’re pleased that NHS England are currently undertaking a review of urgent and emergency care, nationally, to get to the heart of problems and identify year-round solutions to improve patient care and working conditions for staff.

“We’re hopeful that the findings of this review will have a long lasting effect.”

Unite head of health Rachael Maskell described the £500m as a “sticking plaster” solution.

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Readers' comments (6)

  • None of this will work unless there is investment in community services to ensure the provision of care at home and outside of secondary care. District Nursing and community teams are working with diminished numbers of staff and are struggling to meet non complex patient care needs, let alone meet the additional workload that the winter pressure months. There has been no joined up thinking ,with drives to support earlier discharge and admission prevention strategies, but without the services to support this additional workload in the community settings.
    Listen to the front line staff who are raising concerns about staffing levels on a day to day basis. More funding is required in community care and until this is found ,the A & E pressure and issues will remain.

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  • it will be yet another patch up job until the money runs out and more and more patients will attend A&E and other services for more frequent and costly treatments because the patch ups haven't worked; whilst the dwindling staff run around chasing their tails in faster and faster but ever decreasing vicious circles just like the wee hammies and mice in their wheels as their resources and means diminish and their managers' cognitive skills needed for problem solving dry up!

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  • the tories dont want bad press about the nhs when their is a general election less than 2 years away!!

    wake up people its about votes they dont, and never have, give a fig about the nhs

    get rid of these idiots as soon as we can and get our nhs back where it belongs...to the people..not for profit companies, who funny old thing, sponser the tory party!!!

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  • Anonymous | 8-Aug-2013 1:03 pm

    I'm not sure you can blame the Torries on 'winter pressures' as there has always been increased demand on services in the winter months for as long as I can remember.

    Remember, it was Labour who dreamed-up the ridiculous GP contract which allowed GP's to work Monday to Friday 9-5 pm and not provide appropriate care to their lists.

    It was also Labour who mandated that all new hospital builds be PFI which has left many of our hospital Trusts with crippling debts.

    Political parties of all persuasions are completely useless when it comes to sorting out the NHS, I mean look at that idiot Landsley's recent attempt.

    There's no getting away from it: the NHS needs to change radically, I don't just mean fannying-around at the edges, it needs root and branch change.

    The NHS needs to do far, far less and it needs to start charging for more services. The GP's need sorting out too, so that they actually provide 24/7 care to their patients - this measure alone would help ease A&E pressures.

    The NHS really can't continue on much longer as it is: its costing too much, its trying to be all things to all people and there simply isn't the money to do it! Until people accept this reality and start making serious decisions, things will never improve.

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  • Anonymous | 8-Aug-2013 4:43 pm

    The NHS needs to do far, far more. And could do if the silly expenses of unnecessary management, complicated, unwieldly and inefficient models (including costly privatisation) were eradicated. There is far too much waste. We know that the NHS could provide excellent care, free at point of delivery if it were run properly. No extra investment required.

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  • This must be a little joke?
    Perhaps it is the charity box from the bailed out bankers 'Performer of the year' award?
    Where will the money go and who will competently supervise it's distribution to any A&E department that needs it?
    I do not work in Emergency nursing and my admirable colleagues I would not want to, you are brilliant. Student placements put an end to my A&E dream.
    Lets look out for additional consultant cover and more hard working nurses. Oh and breaks too.
    Nevertheless, I get the feeling that a laminated poster will appear in the corridors, telling everyone how the money is best spent.

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