Wales politics

Extra £10m for Welsh NHS winter pressures

Vaughan Gething

An extra £10m has been announced by the Welsh Government to help relieve winter pressures on the Welsh NHS.

It comes a day after Welsh Health Secretary Vaughan Gething apologised to patients whose routine operations have been cancelled.

He said the service was facing "extreme pressure" - the £10m comes on top of £50m announced last year.

The funding announcement was welcomed by the BMA, by the Welsh Tories derided it as a "meaningless gesture".

The combined £60m amounts to 0.82% of the £7.3bn Welsh Government health, well-being and sport budget.

The Welsh Government has said that flu outbreaks have added to pressures on the health service.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine Wales said on Wednesday that emergency departments in Welsh hospitals felt "like a battlefield" to staff.

Mr Gething said: "NHS organisations have been planning for this period since the end of last winter, supported by £50m of funding from us to help them balance urgent and planned care activity.

"Despite this significant investment, what we have seen in the recent days is a system that is under extreme pressure.

"During this challenging period, I want to provide the NHS in Wales with an extra £10m of new investment to help front-line staff care for our patients through this winter."

He added that primary care and accident and emergency services across Wales were "extremely busy", with reported increases of up to 50% in life threatening-incidents in ambulance services when compared with last year at times over Christmas.

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Part of the contract with GPs, known as the Quality and Outcomes Framework, will also be relaxed to help allow them to manage their most vulnerable and chronically sick patients over the winter.

Dr Charlotte Jones, chair of the Wales General Practitioners Committee of the British Medical Association said: "I am pleased to see the Welsh Government take this action and am fully supportive of it.

"In the future we hope that health boards will ensure that GPs both in and out of hours are properly engaged in planning for winter pressures so that the whole system can meet the needs of patients."

But a spokesman for the Welsh Conservatives said: "While any extra cash to the health service is to be welcomed, in the face of the current pressures this really is a meaningless gesture from the cabinet secretary."

"Instead of throwing arbitrary sums of cash at the problem for the sake of some cheap headlines, the cabinet secretary should be working tirelessly with all arms of the health service to develop a short and long-term strategy out of this mess."

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