Hospitals are to receive an extra £300m in government cash in a bid to arrest further decline in accident and emergency performance over the winter.
The funding release announced by the Department of Health today confirms HSJ’s previous report that additional cash would be released to A&Es on top of the £400m fund revealed in June.
- Exclusive: Stevens warns leaders that funding increase will depend on A&E performance
- Exclusive: Government set to release more A&E rescue funding
- Exclusive: Deputy prime minister puts faith in winter funding
The £700m total is a significant increase on the past two years of £300m in 2012-13 and £400m last year and comes as emergency admissions continue to rise. According to official figures, they have increased by 6.6 per cent over the last two years.
They also show that the sector has failed to meet the four hour target for the last 68 weeks in major A&Es.
Across all departments, which include urgent care centres and walk-in clinics, performance is at 94.8 per cent in the year to date.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the service was “under unprecedented extra demand, with a million more visits to A&E each year compared to 2010”.
The NHS will be expected to deliver results in return for the extra funding, he added.
Mr Hunt said: “We are boosting frontline services and expect the NHS to ensure strong performance is delivered locally, drawing on the multimillion pond support package that the government has provided.”
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said “services pressures are rising” and “this winter the NHS will be pulling out all the stops”.
Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said that short-term, seasonal funding is not “helpful” in order to “plan effectively”.
He said: “While the winter brings its own challenges, our members regularly tell us that it is ‘winter all year round’ with pressures being experienced regardless of the time of year.
“We welcome this extra resource as a temporary easing of the financial position and recognise the choices that have been made to find the money. The cash does not guarantee extra staffing nor does it help with planning…We must now move from a ‘sticking plaster’ solution to these problems. The urgent care system needs a holistic approach with a long term programme if it is to meet the challenges it faces and our members tell us short term funding is not helpful to plan effectively.”
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: “We’ve been telling David Cameron for more than two years to get a grip on the crisis he created in A&E. Throwing money at it when winter’s about to start is not good enough.
“England’s A&Es are getting worse, not better, and this panic move is too little to stop the NHS facing a difficult winter. It is further evidence that David Cameron can’t be trusted with it.”