ECONOMY

Extra funding for NHS to clear Covid backlog ‘must be followed up’


H

ealth leaders have urged the Government to go further with extra funding to help the NHS recover from the backlog caused by coronavirus as billions of pounds of new money was described as a good first step.

Officials warned on Monday that waiting lists for routine operations such as hip replacements and cataract surgery could reach 13 million.

It came as the Government said the NHS will be given an extra £5.4 billion over the next six months to continue the response to coronavirus and tackle the backlog caused by the pandemic.

But ministers are being urged to “follow up in its spending review with the extra £10 billion a year the NHS will need over the next three years to avoid patient services from being cut”.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced the new funding and said £1 billion of the amount would be specifically for clearing the waiting lists faced by patients due to Covid-19, while £2.8 billion will be allocated for costs such as better infection control to continue to protect against the virus.

A further £478 million would go towards discharging patients from hospitals to free up beds.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “The NHS was there for us during the pandemic – but treating Covid patients has created huge backlogs.

“This funding will go straight to the front line, to provide more patients with the treatments they need but aren’t getting quickly enough.

“We will continue to make sure our NHS has what it needs to bust the Covid backlogs and help the health service build back better from the worst pandemic in a century.”

(PA Graphics) / PA Graphics

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “We know waiting lists will get worse before they get better as people come forward for help, and I want to reassure you the NHS is open, and we are doing what we can to support the NHS to deliver routine operations and treatment to patients across the country.”

Health leaders welcomed the investment, but also warned that the Government would need to do more.

In a joint statement, NHS Confederation chief executive Matthew Taylor and NHS Providers deputy chief executive Saffron Cordery said: “The NHS can now get on with the huge task it has ahead of what we anticipate will be one of the most challenging winters the service has ever faced.

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