Winter support funding welcome but mechanism for allocation stymies productivity

Rory Deighton responds to the allocation of winter pressures funding.

4 December 2023

Responding to the allocation of the government's £40 million urgent and emergency care fund for winter, Rory Deighton, Director of the NHS Confederation's Acute Network said:

"Health leaders will welcome access to any funding that can help to bolster services in the community as we approach winter. With hospital bed occupancy and other pressures already very high they hope that the release of this funding for local authorities will support preparations that the NHS has been putting in place already to keep people well.

"While the NHS is committed to working hand in glove with local authorities to support people over winter, our members are eager to see a shift from these emergency pots of rescue money being needed and towards more multi-year funding allocations that will help public services plan more effectively.

"This year, this worry is compounded by the cost of industrial action which is estimated to be at over £1.4 billion. Whilst the department announced £800 million to cover some of this cost last month, the majority of this needs to be found from existing budgets and indications are it will need to be clawed back from central digital and capital funds.

"This will stymie the ability of NHS leaders to reach the stretching productivity targets set out in the NHS Long-Term Workforce Plan and in the Chancellor's Autumn Statement for all public services."