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NHS hospitals across England will benefit from a share of £700 million to expand wards, install modular operating theatres, upgrade outpatient spaces and MRI and screening technology, to help reduce waiting lists, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed today (3 December 2021).

The funding, to be split across all regions in England, will help reduce waiting times for patients, which includes investment in technology to improve their experiences of care and help them manage their conditions.

Alongside this, the government has also published a supporting document, entitled ‘The health and social care approach to winter’, setting out the key challenges facing NHS and social care services this winter. This includes COVID-19 and the potential threat of variants, preparations being undertaken to keep people safe and healthy, as well as the actions the public can take.

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It comes after the COVID-19 booster programme was extended to all adults in England – with everyone aged over 18 to be offered a booster by the end of January 2022 – to help protect against the Omicron variant.

The allocations for the £700 million announced today include £330 million for upgrading NHS facilities, £250 million for new technology and £120 million for any supporting revenue costs.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid said: “Ahead of what is going to be a difficult winter, we’re putting everything behind our health and care services, so everyone can access the services they need, when they need them.

“Our £700 million investment will help more people get treated over the coming months by upgrading wards, operating theatres, and diagnostic kit.

“We’re taking unprecedented steps to keep people healthy this winter, putting the booster roll-out on steroids, and delivering the largest flu vaccine programme in UK history. We can all play our part in the national mission – when you get the call, please get the jab.”

The funding will cover the costs of – but is not limited to – expanding outpatient space to increase the number of patients seen, additional day surgery units to avoid overnight stays, and upgraded or new imaging equipment.

£700 million has been allocated equally across the country, weighted by population size, and each region will receive:

  • £112 million for the North East and Yorkshire
  • £97 million for the North West
  • £131 million for the Midlands
  • £78 million for the East of England
  • £105 million for the South East
  • £69 million for the South West
  • £109 million for London

A full breakdown of how the £700 million funding will be allocated to NHS organisations throughout England can be found here.

While the NHS and DHSC set out its operational guidance to health and social care services in the months preceding winter, today’s publication aims to set out clearly to the public what preparation has been done, what they can do themselves, and what they expect from health and care services this year.

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