The NHS is to get £330m to spend on alleviating winter pressures and is being strongly encouraged to share it with local authorities, medical director Sir Bruce Keogh has announced.
The cash will be divided equally between each of the four strategic health authority clusters, with the expectation £100m of it is spent with local authorities on social care services.
In the week ending 16 December there were on average 2,522 beds unavailable across the NHS every day due to delayed transfers of care. There was a 1.2 per cent increase in emergency attendances and a 0.6 per cent increase in emergency admissions compared with previous week.
It will be up to SHAs how the money is spent but it is expected much of it will be spent on services to help patients return home quickly, freeing up space to cope with the extra demand.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health stressed the money was not being provided because of any particular concern about how the NHS was coping with winter pressures this year but was available due to “good management of central budgets”.
Sir Bruce said: “The NHS is experienced in dealing with the extra pressure the winter period can bring every year and I’d like to thank NHS staff for all their hard work. The NHS is coping well so far – where there is extra demand, hospitals and staff are working together to ensure that patients get the care they need.
“To build on this, the NHS and social care services will have extra money to manage demand locally, such as by boosting capacity in the community and social care to help people get out of hospital more quickly.”