British finance minister, Rishi Sunak, has said that his budget this week will include an extra £5.9 billion ($8.1 billion) of spending for the health service over the next few years to combat increasing waiting lists. This was announced during a speech at the annual Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, UK, on 4 October.
This is the government’s response to rising NHS waiting lists, which are currently reaching record levels of up to 5.7 million people.
This sum is an addition to the £8 billion package announced last month to tackle backlogs built up over the COVID-19 pandemic. This spending is aimed at increasing elective activity in the NHS – such as scans and non-emergency procedures – by 30% by the 2024/25 financial year.
This is also on top of the £97 billion additional funding provided by the government to support health and social care since the start of the pandemic.
The package will comprise £2.3 billion for testing services, £2.1 billion to improve the technology behind the health service, and £1.5 billion to increase bed capacity. The government also announced that the autumn budget will include £5 billion to fund health research.
“This is a game-changing investment in the NHS to make sure we have the right buildings, equipment and systems to get patients the help they need and make sure the NHS is fit for the future,” Sunak said in a statement.
Layla McCay, Director of Policy at the NHS Confederation, which represents health organisations, said the Treasury “will know that the NHS’s allocation in the spending review falls short of what is needed to get services completely back on track. While being grateful for the investment, we should not pretend that this is not the case.”