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£500 million bailout for A&E
A £500 million bailout to help struggling A&E departments relieve pressure over the winter months has been announced by the Government.
The cash, announced by Prime Minister David Cameron, will be spread over the next two years to prepare the service for winter.
The emergency care system has come under intense pressure, partly due to a rise in the number of people attending A&E. Over one million more people attend A&E than three years ago.
The funding will be directed to A&E departments identified as being under the most pressure and will be targeted at “pinch points” in local services.
It is not yet known if any of the money will make its way to Worcestershire, where A&E departments at Worcestershire Royal and Redditch Alexandra hospitals came under huge strain earlier this year.
Nationally four-hour A&E waiting time targets were missed between January and March. But in Worcestershire the targets were missed for six consecutive months, from November until the end of April.
A Department of Health spokesperson told your Worcester News that decisions about where and how the £500m is to be spent will be taken shortly and an announcement will follow “in the next couple of weeks”.
Mr Cameron said: “With over a million more people visiting A&E in the last three years, services and staff can find themselves under pressure during the busier winter period.
“While A&E departments are performing well this summer and at a level we would expect for this time of year, I want the NHS to take action now to prepare for the coming winter.
“The additional funding will go to hospitals where the pressure will be greatest, with a focus on practical measures that relieve pinch points in local services.”
Mr Cameron said hospitals would need to work more closely with GPs and social care providers to relieve pressure on A&E departments.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "This £500m will help A&E departments to prepare for winter and give patients confidence that they can quickly access safe and reliable emergency care.”
MP Harriett Baldwin welcomed news of the funding and stressed the importance of doing everything possible to keep the burden off A&Es.
“Following last winter's A&E pressures, the team at Worcestershire Royal have done a great job exceeding targets in recent months,” she said. “It is essential that we all try to make sure we use A&E in the right way. For example, people need to make the most of minor injuries centres at Malvern and Tenbury hospital as well, so that we reduce unnecessary pressure on A&E.”
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