The NHS is to be given an extra £5.4 billion budget boost over the next six months - half the amount health service bodies said is needed to respond to Covid-19 and tackle the backlog caused by the pandemic.
Announcing the funding, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said £1 billion of the extra money would be ringfenced specifically for clearing the waiting lists faced by patients due to Covid-19.
The remaining £2.8 billion will be allocated for costs such as better infection control to continue to protect against the virus.
Health secretary Sajid Javid says the extra funding "will make a huge difference"
A further £478 million would go towards discharging patients from hospitals to free up beds.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “The NHS was there for us during the pandemic – but treating Covid patients has created huge backlogs.
“This funding will go straight to the front line, to provide more patients with the treatments they need but aren’t getting quickly enough.
“We will continue to make sure our NHS has what it needs to bust the Covid backlogs and help the health service build back better from the worst pandemic in a century.”
Health Editor Emily Morgan on why experts believe the budget boost does not go far enough
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “We know waiting lists will get worse before they get better as people come forward for help, and I want to reassure you the NHS is open, and we are doing what we can to support the NHS to deliver routine operations and treatment to patients across the country.”
Last week, two major organisations representing the health service’s frontline have warned the NHS budget must increase by around £10 billion and anything less could see trusts forced to cut services.
Almost half of the money will be needed to cover ongoing coronavirus-related costs, NHS Providers and the NHS Confederation said.
Billions will also be needed to recover care backlogs, the organisations said, as they published a report detailing the costs facing the health service in England.
They said that of their total £10 billion estimate, some £4.6 billion will be required to cover ongoing costs linked to the virus, while between £3.5 and £4.5 billion would be needed to tackle backlogs in care.
The Government said the waiting list for routine operations such as hip replacements and cataract surgery could reach 13 million, and that people coming forward for treatment they delayed during the pandemic was expected to make the situation worse before it improved.
Some £500 million of the funding announced on Monday was due to go towards opening extra theatre capacity and utilising new technology to increase the number of surgeries that can take place.
The funding is for England only, with devolved nations being allocated up to £1 billion.
NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “This funding provides welcome certainty for the NHS, which has pulled out all the stops to restore services, while caring for thousands of seriously ill Covid patients requiring hospital treatment during the toughest summer on record.
“This additional investment will enable the NHS to deliver more checks, scans and procedures as well as helping to deal with the ongoing costs and pressures of the pandemic as the NHS heads into winter.”