Hospital beds freed up as NHS braces itself for ‘once in a generation’ challenge

Around 15,000 hospital beds are to be freed up as hospitals brace themselves for an influx of patients with Covid-19.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced that £2.9 billion of the Government’s emergency Covid-19 fund would be allocated towards helping the vulnerable and ensuring capacity in hospitals.

DHSC said £1.9 billion is to be allocated to local authorities so they can sure up social care services and help services which care for other vulnerable groups including the homeless.

And £1.3 billion is to be used so the NHS can “enhance” its discharge process so that patients who “no longer need urgent treatment can return home safely and quickly”.

The funding will cover the follow-on care costs for adults in social care, or people in need of additional support, when they are out of hospital and back in their homes, community settings, or care settings, DHSC said.

It is hoped that the measures will mean that “at least” 15,000 hospital beds will become available, ready to treat people in urgent need of care.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This funding will help the NHS and social care services in our communities to rise to this once in a generation challenge by allowing the NHS to do what it needs to, and help move people out of hospital as soon as possible to get them back home with the right support.

“We are clear that we will do whatever it takes to protect lives and protect our NHS.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak, said: “I’ve been clear that the NHS and other vital public services will receive whatever they need to protect people from Coronavirus.

“Our £5 billion Budget response fund is now being used to free up more beds in hospitals and ensure some of our most vulnerable people are getting the care they need.”

Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick added: “The work of local authorities to deliver social care and other vital public services has never been more important than it is now – and will be – in the days and weeks ahead.

“That’s why we’re giving local councils £1.6 billion of additional funding to spend where it’s needed most, to ensure they can meet the cost of the increased demand for social care, and continue to protect the most vulnerable people in society.”

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