The new Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced an extra £1.8bn in funding for the NHS, including over £110m for primary care.
The investment will fund upgrades for 20 projects in hospitals and CCGs across the country, alongside £1bn for NHS capital spending.
However, some health economists have cast doubt on whether this was new funding.
And although the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) welcomed the investment they stressed that tackling the nursing workforce crisis should be Mr Johnson’s priority to ensure better facilities were ‘matched by enough of the right people with time to care’.
Yesterday’s announcement comes after Mr Johnson promised to reduce GP waiting times in his first speech as PM last month.
The funding will include:
- £25.2m to develop primary care services in NHS South Norfolk CCG;
- £17m for Barking, Havering and Redbridge CCGs and North East London NHS Foundation Trust to develop a new health and wellbeing hub in North East London;
- £57.5m primary care investment for South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw;
- £18m for NHS Wirral CCG to better ‘patient flow’ by improving access via the urgent treatment centre.
The investment will also cover £30.6m for the development of a new emergency care campus in Stockport, which will incorporate a GP assessment unit alongside an urgent treatment centre and planned investigation unit.
Mr Johnson said: ‘The NHS is always there for us – free at the point of use for everyone in the country. With our doctors and nurses working tirelessly day in day out, this treasured institution truly showcases the very best of Britain.
‘That’s why I made it my immediate task to make sure frontline services have the funding they need, to make a real difference to the lives of NHS staff, and above all of patients.
‘I’m delivering on this promise with a £1.8bn cash injection – meaning more beds, new wards, and extra life-saving equipment to ensure patients continue to receive world-class care.’
However, Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN said ‘unlocking money’ to spend on new buildings and facilities was ‘a positive step’, and would be supported most by nurses who have to work in cramped and outdated conditions.
But she said that nursing staff would be looking to the Prime Minister with an even greater expectation of addressing the workforce crisis
Andrea Sutcliffe, chief executive of the NMC also welcomed the announcement but called for social care not to be ignored.
She added: “Better facilities need to be matched by enough of the right people with time to care. Investing in recruiting and retaining nurses, midwives and nursing associates, including supporting their ongoing training and development, must also be a priority to ensure the safest, best care is provided for everyone who needs it.’
Following Mr Johnson’s announcement, a senior analyst from the Nuffield Trust, Sally Gainsbury, tweeted that there was a ‘catch’ to the prime minister’s announcement.
She said: ‘The £1bn is cash hospitals and other NHS trusts already have but have been forbidden to spend. They earned it last year in incentive payments for cutting their costs.
‘The “PSF” incentive deal was this: cut your costs and report a surplus in your accounts, and the government will give you a big fat cash reward in return that you can spend on new kit and building repairs.’
She added the scheme had been running for three years and had typically seen between 70 and 90 NHS trusts cut their spending each year by 50% more than they needed, in return for £2.3bn in cash rewards.