NHS to get hospital beds and ambulances to tackle delays
Thousands of extra hospital beds and hundreds of ambulances will be rolled out in England this year in a bid to tackle the long emergency care delays.
The 5,000 new beds will increase capacity by 5% while there will be a 10% boost in the ambulance fleet with 800 new vehicles on the road.
The £1bn investment will be set out later in a joint government and NHS England two-year blueprint.
Labour have said the plans are still not enough to tackle the current problems facing the NHS.
There are also questions about how the extra resources will be staffed – currently, one in 10 posts in the NHS is vacant.
King’s Fund health think tank said until the issue was addressed it was “hard to see” how these measures would have an impact.
The measures will be introduced from April, and the government hopes they will help the NHS to start getting closer to its waiting time targets.
It has set goals that by March 2024:
- 76% of A&E patients will be dealt with in four hours. Currently fewer than 70% are. The official target is 95%
- An average response time of 30 minutes for emergency calls such as heart attacks and strokes. In December patients waited over 90. The official target is 18
PM Rishi Sunak said cutting NHS waiting times was one of his five main priorities. “We have an ambitious and credible plan,” he said.
The plan will also see some of the measures taken over the past year expanded further.
It includes the creation of virtual wards where patients with conditions such as heart failure receive expert care in their own home via digital technologies.
Falls services – which provide an urgent response to older people with the aim of avoiding hospital admission – will run all year round.
There will also be a host of new pilots to test out step-down care to help discharge patients from hospital. This will include new rehabilitation and physio services for people who need support following a stay in hospital.
The investment is being paid for using some of the extra £6.6bn the government announced for the NHS in the autumn statement for the next two years.