Extra £26m for NHS in Gwent to meet demand
8:26am Friday 18th October 2013 in Monmouthshire news
THE NHS in Gwent will receive almost £27 million of extra funding this year to help deal with increased demand.
The money is part of a Wales-wide £150m cash injection to address growing pressure on emergency care, demand on the ambulance service, and the need to widen the immunisation programme.
The vast majority of the extra money - £23.88m in Gwent - will be used to try to deal with pressures on unscheduled care, such as A&E attendances and ambulances.
Details of how the money will be spent in Gwent have not yet been published, but Aneurin Bevan Health Board is gearing up for another busy winter, and proposes to have up to 125 extra beds available to use as and when the demand is there, to minimise long waits in A&E and to ensure as far as possible that beds earmarked for surgical patients are not taken up by medical admissions, thus forcing the cancellation of operations.
The health board has also been boosting consultant physician input into A&E, setting up clinical decisions units to assess some patients ahead of a decision on whether or not they need to be admitted.
It also proposes to give the Gwent Frailty Programme - which provides enhanced care in the community for elderly patients, to try to avoid hospital admissions - a presence in A&E, to provide an alternative for patients where appropriate, as soon as they arrive at the hospital 'front door', to minimise their stay.
Wales-wide, £7m will be provided to deliver immunisation programmes, with £1.14m of it coming to Gwent.
The immunisation programme provides protection against a range of illnesses, such as flu, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, tetanus and whooping cough, but it is being expanded this year.
Flu vaccinations are being extended to cover two- and three-year-olds this year, the start of a programme that will eventually make the vaccine available every year to two-16 year-olds.
Other changes include the introduction of a rotavirus vaccine for babies, and a shingles vaccine for the over-70s.
Also included in the £150m Wales-wide figure is £10.1m for increasing nurse staffing, with £1.9m earmarked for Gwent.
This money recognises the need identified in the Francis Report on the Mid-Staffordshire Hospital scandal, for safe staffing levels on wards.
Health minister Professor Mark Drakeford said that despite the extra money, the challenge facing the NHS in Wales remains "sustained and substantial."
"While the additional funding in the budget is welcome it will not remove the need for further significant changes in the NHS, nor will it relieve all of the pressures that the service currently faces," he said.
" Along with other Welsh public services, the demand and austerity pressures will continue to increase. During the remainder of 2013-14, health boards and the Welsh Government face difficult decisions in order to maintain services."
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