Budget to include £6 billion to tackle NHS waiting lists and improve tech

·3 min read

A £6 billion package of funding to help tackle NHS backlogs across England will form part of the upcoming Budget.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to set out the investment in NHS capital funding that will support the aim to deliver around 30% more elective activity by 2024-25 compared to pre-pandemic levels.

This is equivalent to millions more checks, scans and procedures for non-emergency patients, the Treasury said.

In an effort to address the Covid backlog of people waiting for checks, tests and scans, and help get waiting lists down, £2.3 billion of the funding package will be used to try to transform diagnostic services.

The Treasury said there will be at least 100 “one-stop-shop” community diagnostic centres across England, including the 44 already announced.

These centres are expected to help clear most existing test backlogs caused by the pandemic, including for CT, MRI and ultrasound scans, by the end of the parliament.

The Treasury said the additional capacity will also ensure the resilience of the country’s diagnostic services in the years to come.

The settlement to tackle backlogs also includes £1.5 billion for increased bed capacity, equipment and new surgical hubs to tackle waiting times for elective surgeries.

Each hub will be equipped with four or five surgical theatres designated for critical elective surgeries.

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Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak says he is committed to getting health services back on track (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)

A total of £2.1 billion of the £5.9 billion total will be invested in technology and data in a bid to improve efficiency and security within the NHS.

It is hoped the new and improved IT will help NHS staff have access to the fastest broadband, and that digital patient records will ensure patients get the best care wherever they are.

The Treasury said the £5.9 billion funding is on top of the Government’s plan to spend £8 billion to tackle the elective backlog over the next three years, and the £97 billion additional funding the Government has provided to support health and care since the start of the pandemic.

Mr Sunak said: “We are committed to getting health services back on track and ensuring no one is left waiting for vital tests or treatment.

“This is a game-changing investment in the NHS to make sure we have the right buildings, equipment and systems to get patients the help they need and make sure the NHS is fit for the future.”

Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “Our phenomenal NHS has worked so hard to keep people safe during the pandemic and we’ll do whatever it takes to make sure people are getting the treatment they need as quickly as possible.

“This £6 billion investment will support the delivery of millions more checks, scans and procedures for patients across the country.

“Business as usual won’t be enough, that’s why we are going to reform care with more community diagnostic centres, new surgical hubs and the latest technology to help recover NHS services by tackling waiting lists.”

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