The Prime Minister has called a crisis meeting at Number 10 today to discuss ways to mitigate winter pressures on the NHS.
Rishi Sunak and health secretary Steve Barclay will meet with clinical leaders to discuss how to ‘improve performance and drive forward planning to ease pressures on the NHS this winter’ focusing on ‘ensuring those who most need help and support will get the care they need’.
The meeting will be attended by NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard, national medical director, Stephen Powis, national clinical director for urgent and emergency care, Julian Redhead and chief nursing officer, Ruth May.
Chairs of the RCGP, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health will also attend, as will representatives of community health services in England.
The BMA was not invited to attend the meeting despite ongoing strikes by junior doctors and hospital consultants.
Mr Sunak said: ‘This year we started planning for winter earlier than before. We invested in more beds, ambulances and discharge lounges through our Urgent and Emergency Care Recovery Plan, and we’re freeing up 15 million GP appointments through our Primary Care Recovery Plan.
‘To drive forward that progress, today we’re bringing together the best minds in healthcare who all have one shared aim – protecting patients and making sure they get the care they need this winter.’
Mr Barclay said: ‘Winter is always an extremely busy period and we’re working across the NHS to make services more resilient, ensuring those who most need help and support will get the care they need.
‘I’m working closely with NHS and social care leaders to provide additional hospital capacity, protect emergency care and harness the full potential of technology to deliver the best possible service and intensify our efforts to tackle waiting lists.’
Winter plan measures, set out in July will ‘boost capacity and resilience’, according to NHS England – although they include no additional funding for general practice.
The funding announced as part of the plan included:
- £1b of dedicated funding to support capacity in urgent and emergency services, building on the £500m used last winter.
- £250m worth of capital investment to deliver additional capacity.
- £200m for ambulance services to increase the number of ambulance hours on the road.
- Together with DHSC, an additional £1.6bn of discharge funding over 2023/24 and 2024/25, building on the £500m Adult Social Care Discharge Fund.
However, GPs have raised concerns about the lack of extra funding to support general practice within these plans – with no winter money allocated specifically to the service.
Earlier this year, Pulse revealed exclusively that NHS England will work towards incorporating general practice in the ‘OPEL’ system pressures framework over the next year.