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Winter pressure funding announced amid social care cuts warning

The Welsh government has announced £50m additional funding for the NHS to deal with winter pressures.

It said the money would help the NHS manage increased demand but said the public had to play their part and avoid putting unnecessary pressure on services.

It comes as GP leaders in Wales warned in October that without adequate capacity in health and social care, an already stretched NHS would not be able to respond to the extra pressure commonly seen in winter.

Welsh cabinet secretary Vaughan Gething said: ‘The NHS will receive £50m this year to sustain performance and meet the increased demand placed on services going into the winter period.

‘We are investing in the NHS, but everyone in Wales can play their part by choosing well.’

BMA Wales chair Dr Philip Banfield said he looked forward to hearing where in the system the money was going to be spent.

He said: ‘It is hugely important to stop the decline in primary care and community services, which would enable patients to remain at home, return there more quickly and stay there, rather than returning to hospital because discharge occurred prematurely or without adequate support.’

The announcement comes as in England, the House of Commons Health Committee is putting out a stark warning today that cuts in adult social care budgets are increasing the strain on NHS, with its report on winter planning in A&E departments.

Committee chair and former GP Dr Sarah Wollaston said: ‘A&E departments in England are managing unprecedented levels of demand.

‘The pressures are now continuing year round without the traditional respite over the summer months as departments try to cope with increasing numbers of patients with complex needs.’

BMA chair Dr Mark Porter said that the only way to solve the problem, which also affects GPs, was to ‘look at long-term funding and recruitment issues facing the NHS on the whole’.

He said: ‘It is vital that there is sufficient capacity across the entire health and social care system, including in accident and emergency departments, general practice and social care provision.

‘Short-term fixes, however well meaning, will only get us so far.’