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An extra £10 million to help relieve NHS winter pressures announced

Credit: PA

The Health Secretary Vaughan Gething has announced an additional £10 million to help relieve winter pressures on health and social care services in Wales.

0.14%
£10m is approximately 0.14% of the total health budget for the year, (which is £7bn).

The Welsh Government says the funding will be used to support:

  • health boards
  • the ambulance service
  • social care services
  • the increase in people using services at this time of year

The Welsh Government says it will help relieve pressure across the whole system from primary care through to hospital care and social services in Wales, for example enabling older people to leave hospital more quickly through the use of support packages where appropriate.

The Health Secretary says he has also taken action to relieve pressure on GPs.

Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

What we have seen in the recent days is a system that is under extreme pressure.

We know both Primary Care and Accident and Emergency (A&E) services across Wales are currently extremely busy. The ambulance service has reported increases of up to 50% in life threatening incidents when compared to last year at times over Christmas.

Our 111 service received twice as many calls as predicted on New Year’s Day and the Out of Hours service continues to face huge demands. This additional funding will go some way in helping relieve the pressure on the system.

I would like to thank all of our NHS staff who are showing, day in day out, great resilience in responding with compassion for patients. Their commitment to their patients and the care they are giving should be highly commended. The system only works because of staff working within our NHS.

– Vaughan Gething, Health Secretary

But some people say that £10 million is just "a drop in the ocean."

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I am pleased to see the Welsh Government take this action and am fully supportive of it.

GPC Wales has put forward a number additional solutions that we feel will further alleviate pressure on GP teams and look forward to hearing from the Welsh Government if these solutions can be taken forward.

In the future we hope that Health Boards will ensure that GPs both in and out of hours are properly engaged in planning for winter pressures so that the whole system can meet the needs of patients.

– Dr Charlotte Jones, Chair of GPC Wales

The extra funding is of course welcome. We hope the money is not swallowed up in wider budgets; we urge health boards to allocate specific funding to support general practice and out of hours services which are under enormous strain. A thriving primary care sector will deliver care in people’s communities and keep patients out of hospitals, to the benefit of the entire Welsh NHS.

We welcome the relaxation of the quality and outcomes framework (QOF), which will mean GPs spend more time treating patients and less time ticking boxes. Everyone is aware of the challenges the winter months bring. In the last two years QOF has suspended in January and in the future we hope this measure can take place earlier, as soon as winter pressures start to hit.

At the start of last month RCGP Wales raised concerns that not enough GPs were being included in winter pressure planning and this needs to change.

– Dr Rebecca Payne, Chair of RCGP Wales
Credit: PA

While any extra cash to the health service is to be welcomed, in the face of the current pressures this really is a meaningless gesture from the Cabinet Secretary.

As we have stated time and time again, what the health service actually needs is more staff, strong leadership and effective strategic planning – all of which are in woefully short supply.

– Welsh Conservatives spokesman

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