NHS gets £5.4 billion cash injection to cope with coming winter

The U.K. government today announced a cash injection of £5.4 billion for the National Health Service over the next six months to help tackle record backlogs and an anticipated surge in care needs this winter.

The National Health Service has been under enormous strain throughout the pandemic, and now faces the annual winter flu season coupled with an anticipated surge in new coronavirus infections as children return to school.

On top of that, there are an estimated 5.5 million people waiting for planned care, such as eye and hip operations, while another 8 million “missing patients” — those who have delayed visiting their doctor over a health concern — are likely to present to the NHS needing care, according to analysis by The Health Foundation. If these missing patients come forward for help, waiting lists could reach closer to 13 million people, they warn.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s offering includes £1 billion to help tackle COVID-19 backlogs and deliver routine surgery and treatment; £2.8 billion to cover related costs such as enhanced infection control measures; £478 million for enhanced hospital discharge; £600 million for day-to-day costs; and £500 million in capital funding, the Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said the money was “critical to ensuring the health service has what it needs to manage the ongoing pandemic and helping to tackle waiting lists,” but warned “waiting lists will get worse before they get better as people come forward for help.”

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