Scottish NHS to get additional £37 million for winter

An NHS Winter Preparedness Plan outlining steps to ensure a resilient and safe health care system has been published, with Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman confirming an additional £37 million to support services cope with the virus.

With coronavirus cases continuing to rise, £1.1 billion has already been allocated to NHS Health Boards and Integration Authorities to meet the costs of responding to the pandemic. An additional £37 million has now been announced to support services cope with the virus, vaccinations and Test and Protect and the delivery of normal winter illnesses and weather. As a result of these continued pressures, NHS Scotland will remain in a state of emergency over winter.

To complement the NHS Winter Preparedness Plan, a comprehensive Adult Social Care Winter plan will be published in early November, which will focus on delivering maximum protection for people who use social care support in residential and community settings and in their own homes, and for those who provide that care, including unpaid carers.

The Scottish Government has also said that it will double the number of people protected by the flu vaccine to nearly 2.5 million, and increase testing capacity from around 27,000 to at least 65,000 tests per day by winter, drawing upon both Scottish and UK-wide lab capacities.

Other actions include investing £20 million to support the redesign of urgent care and ensuring a consistent national framework to unplanned care and supporting key workers in health and social care by ensuring staff ‘hubs’ and rest areas are maintained and establishing a Mental Health Network, backed initially by £5 million of funding.

Freeman said: “Every effort must be made to prepare the NHS for the pressures it will face in the coming months, including normal winter illnesses, the impact of any severe weather, a significant resurgence of Covid-19 and a potential no-deal Brexit. Due to the continued dedication of health and social care staff, and support from the public, NHS Scotland has not been overwhelmed at any point during the pandemic. Our over-riding priority is to ensure the this continues to be the case, not only to save lives and treat Covid-19 patients but to make sure we can continue to deliver healthcare to those who need it.    

“I am absolutely determined that we will do everything in our power to be ready for these challenges. We have learnt a lot from the first wave of the pandemic and we are better prepared. We must also recognise that we cannot respond successfully to any of these challenges, if we do not work to support the health, wellbeing and resilience of our staff, of whom we have asked so much already. Our Winter Preparedness Plan sets out the range of actions we are taking to support our incredible health and care services and our staff, and outlines how we will work with them to manage this next phase.”