£12.5m funding announced for Welsh NHS as number of staff off sick with Covid hits highest level

Health Minister Eluned Morgan

An extra £12.5 million of funding has been announced by the Welsh Government to help the NHS and social care sector, as winter pressures and the Covid pandemic take their toll.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan has made a plea to the Welsh public, saying we "all need to work together and help us to help you this winter".

The money will be used to support people to live independently following a hospital stay and help pharmacies ensure more people stay well without needing to see a GP.

Latest figures show the number of patients with Covid in hospitals across Wales is at its highest level since last March. The number of NHS staff off sick with the virus is also the highest it has ever been since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.

In a press conference on Tuesday Ms Morgan warned that have still not reached the peak of the Omicron variant yet.

How will the money be allocated?The Welsh Government has said £10 million will be distributed across the 22 local authorities to help people with care and support needs to live independently in their own homes.

Local authorities will be able to purchase equipment such as flow mattresses, patient turning systems, stair lifts and hoists and telecare equipment or fund small or medium home adaption.

Increasing the equipment available and having it installed before care needs to be escalated, can free up much needed hospital beds by allowing people to be discharged quicker and avoid unnecessary hospital stays.

In addition, £2.5 million will better support pharmacists and patients by improving access to treatment and advice for a range of common ailments.

The Welsh Government hopes that increased access to pharmacies will reduce pressures on GPs and other NHS services.

'Extremely challenging pressures'The Minister for Health and Social Services, Eluned Morgan, said: “The pressures on the health and social care system remain extremely challenging. We all need to work together to support our health and social care services and help us to help you this winter.

“Simple things like visiting local pharmacies or minor injuries units for advice on minor health concerns, checking symptoms online using the NHS 111 Wales website or getting a Covid vaccine can make a high difference to our NHS and help people look after their health this winter.

“The funding announced today will help tackle the hospital and work force pressures within community services and social care by avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions and supporting people who currently cannot be discharged from hospitals due to insufficient care capacity return home.”  

  • Watch: Health Minister holds press conference as number of Welsh NHS staff off sick with Covid at its highest level since start of pandemic