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The NHS is accelerating the delivery of operations and other non-urgent services as part of a £8.1 billion plan to help the health service recover all patient services following the intense winter wave of coronavirus.
Set out in the NHS Operational Planning Guidance, the investment will also fund more support for staff who may be impacted by their experiences during the coronavirus pandemic. NHS England has announced that the NHS is rolling out 40 mental health hubs to help staff recover and hospitals are being encouraged to recruit more healthcare and medical support workers to ease the burden on existing staff.
The additional investment in routine, non-Covid services including maternity, follows more than a year of intense pressure that has seen more than 390,000 critically ill patients require hospital for the virus. While waiting times for routine procedures fell significantly following the first April peak of coronavirus, more than 100,000 people were admitted with the virus in January 2021, at the peak of the winter wave, prompting additional disruption to services.
Trusts, who will be expected to reduce the number of patients waiting for longer than 62 days for cancer procedures to pre-pandemic levels over the coming months, will qualify for a share of a £1 billion pot to increase operations and other elective procedures.
Maternity services will be boosted by an additional £95million this year, including by creating new midwifery and obstetrician roles and providing more training and leadership programmes for midwives.
Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “More than a year after the NHS treated this country’s first Covid patients hospitals have now treated 390,000 patients critically ill with the virus, including more than 100,000 in January alone. But they have also pulled out all the stops to treat millions of people with other conditions, and the whole of NHS is now mobilising to roll out the biggest vaccination campaign in history.
“The NHS made good use of the summer and autumn, when infections and hospitalisations were lower, to restore services and begin tackling the backlog. With infections once again now falling, this investment will help nurses, doctors and other staff go further and faster in realising the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan while supporting them as they do so.”
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