3,000 extra doctors and nurses, and thousands more beds made available to support NHS

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Thousands of extra beds and the equivalent of nearly 3,000 additional NHS staff will be funded by the Department of Health.Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced the plans today to make sure the NHS is better prepared for winter than ever before.

Nearly two and a half thousand extra beds will be made available across England and the equivalent of nearly 3,000 extra staff will be brought in to help the NHS cope with winter pressures. This consists of temporary staff, extended hours of existing staff and new positions, and is the equivalent of an extra 320 doctors and nearly 2,000 nurses, physiotherapists, social workers and other staff who have been deployed across the country ahead of the traditionally busy winter period.

The extra resources will be put in place following a Government injection of £250 million earlier this year to support the most under pressure NHS Trusts over the busy winter period.

Overall, the NHS is performing well, with 95 per cent of patients being seen in A&E within four hours. However, with a million more people visiting A&E compared to three years ago it is vital that the NHS is well supported to handle the pressure winter can bring.  The majority of the funding was distributed earlier this year to 53 areas where hospitals were identified as being under the most pressure and the money has been targeted at ‘pinch points’ in local services. The money is being spent on a range of additional resources, including:

  • Up to 320 extra doctors and 1,400 extra nurses (full time equivalent (FTE) positions), including temporary staff, extended hours and new positions
  • Up to 1,200 other NHS staff, including physiotherapists, social workers and occupational therapists (FTE positions) including temporary staff, extended hours and new positions
  • Up to 140 additional acute specialist beds and 980 additional acute general beds in hospitals
  • Up to 1,200 other beds, including in the community and in care homes.

An additional £150 million was announced by NHS England last week to other NHS Trusts to help them cope with the cold weather. This money could be spent on local initiatives including:

  • Minimising A&E attendances and hospital admissions from care homes by appointing hospital specialists in charge of joining up services for the elderly
  • Seven-day social work, increased hours at walk-in centres, increased intermediate care beds and extension to pharmacy services to ease pressures on A&E departments
  • Consultant reviews of all ambulance arrivals in A&E so that a senior level decision is taken on what care is needed at the earliest opportunity

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:

The NHS is performing well and more than 95 per cent of patients are being seen in our A&E departments in under four hours.

However, we know that cold weather affects our health and has an impact on the NHS every year. This year will be no different. That’s why we have prepared earlier than ever before by supporting the NHS with a £250 million fund that has been used to hire more doctors and nurses, and provide more beds.

We’re backing our hard working NHS staff with the extra doctors, nurses and beds they need to make sure patients get the excellent care they expect, no matter what season it is. Winter is tough. But the NHS has never been better prepared.

The Department of Health and NHS England are also working to relieve pressure on A&E in the longer term. A £3.8 billion fund has been agreed which will focus on joining up services, so that health and care services work more closely together, keeping people healthier and treating them closer to home. Professor Sir Bruce Keogh recently published his review on urgent and emergency care and how the NHS should address the longer term challenges when it comes to dealing with emergency care.

In addition, patients across the country will benefit from a £15 million cash injection to NHS 111, announced earlier this year, to prepare the service for potential winter pressures.

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