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Wales gets early cash boost to ease winter pressures

Health secretary Vaughan Gething pledges £20 million extra support fund

Caroline White

Friday, 26 October 2018

Welsh health secretary Vaughan Gething has pledged a £20 million package to support the NHS and its partners in Wales throughout the busy winter period.

Some £16 million will be allocated to Local Health Boards to support delivery of actions featured in local integrated winter delivery plans alongside the ambulance service, Local Authority and third sector partners.

This money is intended to help people access care closer to home, ensure there is sufficient hospital capacity and help people to leave hospital when they are ready to do so.

The rest will fund nationally agreed priorities for the winter period. This includes extending GP access into evenings and weekends, as well as bank holidays in some areas and supporting older people who have fallen but who are not injured to remain in their homes or care homes.

The money will also be used to increase the number of paramedics and nurses in the ambulance clinical contact centres to provide advice over the phone and help prevent unnecessary journeys to hospital, and to boost capacity in emergency care to speed up patient flow and to help resettle older, frail people at home following assessment in the emergency department.

And it will go towards helping spread good practice across Wales, using highly skilled paramedics to help keep people at home and supporting the ‘My Winter Health Plan’ initiative to help clinicians who visit people at home understand more about their long-term conditions and prevent admission to hospital where alternative care would better meet their needs.

The £20 million is on top of the £5 million announced last week to help relieve pressure on critical care units and the £10 million announced for delivering sustainable social services.

Vaughan Gething said: “Last winter was one of the most difficult the NHS has faced in several years. Blizzard and freezing conditions, more people using GP and emergency care services, increased admissions to hospitals for older people with complex conditions together with the largest number of flu cases since the pandemic in 2009 meant our NHS was under unprecedented pressure.”

Most patients received timely and high-quality care, he said, but added: “There’s always more that can be done to ensure that the Welsh NHS and local authorities are ready for whatever winter brings. Considering staff well-being is a part of that.”

He continued: “We have learned from our experiences of previous winters and the £20 million…will support NHS Wales and its partners to enhance delivery of the whole health and care system in the coming months.

“I have made the decision to allocate this funding earlier than in previous years to ensure local health and care teams are as prepared as they can be for the winter to come.”

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