Minsters confirm £6 billion NHS funding boost to reduce pandemic backlogs in England

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Wednesday 20th October 2021

The government has confirmed a funding boost worth £5.9 billion to tackle NHS treatment and testing backlogs in England. 

The health secretary announced that Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, will be unveiling details of an additional £5.9 billion for NHS services in England during the latest Budget and Spending Review on Wednesday 27th October. The money will be used to try and tackle backlogs, with over 5 million patients currently waiting for treatment in England.

The cash injection, which is a separate funding boost to an additional £12 billion per year for the NHS and social care announced in September, will be used to fund new equipment and machinery to enable more patients to undergo scans and tests and to fund digitisation and IT upgrades and improvements. 

The primary aim of the funding is to clear backlogs in patients waiting for scans and tests and to create a more efficient service using modern technology to provide better access to state of the art diagnostics for patients. During the pandemic, tests and scans have been cancelled or postponed, contributing to a growing waiting list of patients awaiting assessments and investigations. 

The funding package will be broken down to provide £2.3 billion for diagnostics, around £2 billion for new IT equipment and nearly £2 billion for new beds and surgical hubs. 

The extra funding has been welcomed by health bodies, but some experts have raised concerns over staffing shortages and called for the government to go further. Investment will provide new technology and increase capacity for testing but there are worries that there are not enough staff to cope with the level of demand. 

Further details about NHS funding are expected in the Budget and Spending Review, which will be broadcast on Wednesday 27th October. In addition to extra funding for the NHS, Mr Sunak is expected to lift a pay freeze on public sector wages and increase the national living wage.