The two organisations representing the NHS frontline - NHS Confederation and NHS Providers - have welcomed the clarity provided by the Prime Minister and Health Secretary following the announcement of an additional £5.4 billion in funding for the NHS for the next six months.
Commenting on the announcement Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation and Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers said:
“The NHS has been desperately seeking clarity on its budget for the second half of the year and the government has now delivered that certainty with this £5.4 billion announcement. 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. The task for the government now is 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.
“In return, the NHS will do what it needs to do to manage the ongoing threat from Covid-19 and make inroads into the huge backlog of care that has built up. This funding clarity comes late in the year but it means hospital, ambulance, mental health, community and primary care services can finally plan their services knowing the budget they have available. But while this funding is welcome, the NHS will be held back by major staff shortages that will make it much harder to clear the backlog. This isn’t a short-term fix – we are looking at five to seven years to clear the backlog.
“As well as the NHS playing its part, we also need the public to continue to follow the Covid guidance around mask wearing and social distancing, as well as only using services like A&E when necessary. There has been a lot of negativity towards online consultations from parts of the media, but these are proving to be effective when they are deemed appropriate for individual patients. Contrary to reports, GP practices have remained open throughout the pandemic and will continue to provide face-to-face assessments when needed. But given Covid infection rates remain high, and with schools now open and workers returning to offices, we must be able to run services safely in order to avoid GP practices being closed due to outbreaks of Covid.
“The coming winter is going to be incredibly tough, but we have a chance of getting through this if the government, NHS and public continue to work together to manage the ongoing threat from Covid while starting to make inroads into the backlog of care.”