NHS gets £5.9bn booster shot in Budget to tackle record waiting lists

THE NHS will get an £5.9billion booster shot to take on growing waiting lists, the Chancellor announced in the Budget today.

This afternoon Rishi Sunak confirmed plans to increase the embattled health service's spending.

The injection of cash is key in today's Budget – designed to help get more people the treatment they need amid huge Covid delays.

Within the UK's healthcare, more mobile testing, checks and scan sites will pop up all over the country to deal with the growing backlog in vital appointments and checks.

The Chancellor declared today's Budget was in line with "a stronger economy for the British people", as he outlined the plans for the year ahead.

My Sunak added: "[There will be] more operating theatres to tackle the backlog and 100 community diagnostic centres – all staffed by a bigger, better-trained workforce, with 50,000 more nurses and 50 million more primary care appointments."

He also revealed the health capital budget will be the largest since 2010, with better newborn screening, 40 new hospitals and 70 hospital upgrades.

He said: "At the start of this Parliament, resource spending on healthcare was £133bn. Today’s Spending Review confirms that by the end of the Parliament, it will increase by £44bn to over £177bn."

A focus on early life healthcare was also announced, with the Chancellor adding an inclusion of £300million "Start for Life" parenting programmes and funding to create a network of family hubs around the country.

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Around £1.5billion will be spent on bed, equipment and "surgical hubs", and £2.1billion to improve IT and tech within the NHS.

Over five million Brits are still waiting for NHS treatment in England.

And hundreds of thousands have been holding out for more than a year.

Minesh Patel, Head of Policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “"Even before the pandemic, staff were overburdened and thinly stretched, leaving people with cancer struggling to get the vital care and support they need.

“While we welcome the much-needed funding to tackle the backlog, the Government must urgently invest in the recruitment, training and retention of specialist cancer nurses in order to future-proof our cancer workforce in the years to come.

"Without this cancer nurses will be put under even more immense strain, and all of us will pay the price when we or our families face a cancer diagnosis.”

Giulia Guerrini, lead pharmacist at digital pharmacy, said: “Prior to the pandemic, seeing a GP is something that many of us took for granted, but even then there were waiting lists, delays, and other issues around booking.

“While obviously welcome news, the extra £5.9 billion on top of the £250m injection likely won’t be sufficient to solve the problem, as the real issue comes down to staffing issues, which is unlikely to be fixed by the boost of Budget."

Dr Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: “We welcome confirmation from the Chancellor that the NHS will receive an additional £5.9 billion in capital funding.

“But it’s no good having new equipment if there aren’t enough skilled staff to make use of it. The size of the NHS workforce is one of the biggest limiting factors on our ability to get services back on track."

The Department of Health and Social Care will also get £5billion over three years to fund research projects.

These will include genome technology to help diagnose rare conditions in babies and work on innovative treatment for cancer, obesity and mental health.

The funds announced today are on top of an extra £12billion-a-year which was announced last month.

That money will come through a national insurance tax hike be spent on staffing.

Mr Sunak said: "We are committed to getting health services back on track and ensuring no one is left waiting for vital tests or treatment.

"This is a game-changing investment in the NHS to make sure we have the right buildings, equipment and systems to get patients the help they need and make sure the NHS is fit for the future."

In response to the Budget, Henny Braund MBE, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan, said: “We welcome the Government’s commitment to invest in the vital infrastructure needed to help clear the cancer backlog, but this funding alone won’t be enough.

"Tens of thousands of blood cancer patients, and particularly those receiving stem cell transplants, have been severely impacted by the pandemic and it’s unacceptable that they should face any delays to their diagnosis or treatment.

“It is extremely concerning that we're hearing from NHS staff – whose wellbeing is being impacted by the pandemic – that pressures are continuing to mount on them.

"The cancer workforce is already stretched and this could impact on cancer survival rates and supporting a good quality of life for patients."

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