Extra £2.3million for NHS in Cambridgeshire to cope with winter pressures

The NHS has been handed additional funds to cope with winter pressures.

The NHS has been handed additional funds to cope with winter pressures. - Credit: PA

The NHS has been given a cash boost to help ease additional “winter pressures” in the coming months.

Cambridgeshire will receive £2.32million to help alleviate winter pressures on the NHS, getting patients home quicker and freeing up hospital beds across England.

The extra funding, part of a £240 million fund announced by Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock earlier this month, is aimed at reducing delayed transfers of care and could pay for home care packages to help patients get out of hospital quicker, “reablement packages”, which support workers to help patients carry out everyday tasks and regain mobility and confidence, and home adaptations, including new facilities for personal care.

Peter Topping, chairman of the Cambridgeshire health and wellbeing board, welcomed the funding, saying delayed transfers of care (commonly known as bed-blocking) were a particular issue in Cambridgeshire.

Cllr Topping said: “We know we have a specific issue with getting people out of hospital and into appropriate accommodation. That is something we have been looking closely at.

“In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t look like much, but you can do quite a lot with £2.32 million. In terms of whether it is enough, we will have to see, but it is certainly welcome.”

Cllr Topping said that, rather than facing increased challenges over the winter period, the NHS now faced strains on its resources all year round. He said a key challenge in Cambridgeshire is a lack of care home market capacity.

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“That’s what keeps people stuck in hospital beds,” he said.

“It’s important that NHS and county council work together in growing that market not outbidding each other for its beds”.

Cllr Anna Bailey, chairman of the adults committee at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “We welcome this financial boost from the Department for Health which seeks to ease the significant pressures Cambridgeshire faces when it comes to adult social care.

“This one-off payment will help more people to be discharged from hospital in a timely way and appropriate manner. We are focussed on increasing the capacity available in the community to discharge people from hospital who need support to return home – but this takes time to achieve.

“We work closely with our partners in the NHS, the voluntary and independent sector to achieve this all year round.

“We have been successfully transforming our adult social care services over the last two years, but we need Government to recognise there is a substantial funding shortfall in Cambridgeshire, which is the UK’s fastest growing county, and that our services are under unprecedented strain all year long.

“I believe this funding signals that Government is hearing our message that Cambridgeshire needs a fairer funding deal.”

Dr Gary Howsam, chairman of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said last winter had been “particularly challenging”, and a lot of work has gone into their winter plan for this year.

Dr Howsam said that, as well as the additional NHS funding, there will be “a planned increase in bed capacity at Addenbrooke’s for the winter period as well as promotion of the 111 service.

He said: “Local residents can help by ensuring they use the NHS wisely this winter.

“All patients across Cambridgeshire now have access to more pre-bookable weekend and evening GP appointments.

“If you have an urgent medical concern NHS 111 is available 24/7 and depending on the situation, the team can connect you to a nurse, dentist or even a GP.

“Winter conditions can be seriously bad for our health and we urge all those eligible for a free flu vaccination to book with their GP today,” said Dr Howsam.

“Flu is highly contagious and can also cause serious complications for at risk groups such as over 65s; those with long-term health conditions; young children, carers and pregnant women.”

Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, who is also the MP for West Suffolk, said: “I want to help the NHS through this winter. I have already provided funding for hospitals to make upgrades to their buildings to deal with pressures this winter, and I am making an extra £240 million available to councils to pay for social care packages this winter to support our NHS.

“We will use this money to help people who don’t need to be in hospital, but do need care, to get back home, into their communities, so we can then free up those vital hospital beds, and help more people get the hospital care they need.”