NHS England has today supported the Secretary of State for Health as he set out his plans for ensuring the safety and sustainability of urgent and emergency care services this winter and into the future.
NHS England’s Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Chief Executive Dame Barbara Hakin, and Medical Director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, set out how the NHS in England will develop services across hospital, community and GP care to meet the changing needs of an ageing population.
Alongside the allocation of more than £200 million for projects to make lasting improvements to services where A&E departments are most at risk of struggling to cope with additional pressure over winter, there will be investment of £15 million to ensure winter resilience in NHS 111 services.
Dame Barbara said: “In urgent and emergency care services, often the issue is not just about what’s going on in the hospital – the pressure would be relieved if fewer patients needed to go to hospital because they were kept well and treated at home. This is particularly pertinent for those patients with multiple long-term conditions.
“Different areas have different issues, so for some the money will go to extra hospital capacity in terms of doctors, nurses and diagnostic facilities, in others it will go towards extra support for patients with mental health issues, and in others it will go towards additional community services.
“The NHS 111 service is performing very well at the moment, with high levels of customer satisfaction, but we want to make doubly sure it can manage additional pressure over winter, so we will be spending the £15 million on clinicians and call handlers to manage an additional 20,000 calls per week.”
This winter will also see a major extension of winter flu vaccination, with all children aged two and three offered a nasal spray vaccine, and new incentives for healthcare staff to have the jab. No hospital will receive additional winter funding next year without at least 75% of staff having the flu vaccine.
But it is clear that larger-scale changes are needed in order for services to properly look after those older and more vulnerable people who suffer from a number of different long-term conditions. Dame Barbara set out plans for new ways of looking after these patients in primary and community care, while Sir Bruce gave an update on his wide-ranging national review of urgent and emergency care services.