£500m boost for hospitals

Wigan Infirmary

Wigan Infirmary

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WIGAN’S A&E department could be set to get a share of £500m in extra cash to help them through the winter.

David Cameron unveiled the new pot to relieve cold weather ‘pinch points’ during a visit to Wigan yesterday.

The cash will be spread over the next two years to prepare the service for winter and will include £15 million for the troubled 111 phone service.

The country’s most under-pressure hospitals will be able to use the money to improve both their A&E provision and bolster other services such as walk-in centres, in a bid to divert less urgent cases.

Mr Cameron said: “With over a million more people visiting A&E in the last three years, services and staff can find themselves under pressure during the busier winter period.

“While A&E departments are performing well this summer and at a level we would expect for this time of year, I want the NHS to take action now to prepare for the coming winter.

The additional funding will go to hospitals where the pressure will be greatest, with a focus on practical measures that relieve pinch points in local services.

“By acting now, we can ensure doctors, nurse and NHS staff have the support they need and patients are not left facing excessive waits for treatment.”

Among ministers’ suggestions for the cash are increased hours at pharmacies and walk-in centres, more specialists in charge of joining up services for the elderly, and high-level reviews of ambulance arrivals in order to prioritise patients.

Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for health, said: “This £500m will help A&E departments to prepare for winter and give patients confidence that they can quickly access emergency care.”