I welcome news that Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Trust (BHRUT) is set to receive an additional £4,100,000 in order to support A&E capacity ahead of the winter months.
The extra £4,100,000 means that BHRUT will be able to increase its A&E capacity, put enhanced infection prevention and control measures in place and make improvements to emergency care and urgent treatment services.
Across England, the government is providing £300 million to A&E departments, with work to be completed by the start of next year so hospitals can benefit from the upgrades during the peak of winter.
In June, the Prime Minister announced plans to accelerate £5 billion of infrastructure spending as part of his New Deal for Britain – an ambitious economic strategy to rebuild Britain by putting jobs, skills and infrastructure investment at the heart of the Government’s plans. This funding forms part of the New Deal, which allocated a total of £1.5 billion this year for hospital maintenance, hospital building and A&E expansion.
The funding also comes on top of the additional £3 billion that the Prime Minister recently announced to help prepare the NHS for the winter months ahead. This funding will allow the NHS to continue to use the extra hospital capacity acquired from the independent sector through the coronavirus pandemic, and also to maintain the Nightingale hospitals until the end of March next year.
The A&E preparations are just one strand of work currently underway to get ready for the winter months and to get patients the services they need in the meantime. The coming months have been referred to as a “window of opportunity”, a chance to treat more non-Covid patients before the local NHS has to deal with winter and a possible second surge in the virus. It is an opportunity that BHRUT are seizing. They now have only one Covid ward and just a handful of patients who have tested positive with the virus. The hospital trust is now focusing on using its capacity as best it can, so more people can be treated. At King George Hospital (KGH), where it has set up green and yellow Covid wards, there are seven theatres in operation, and BHRUT is looking at increasing its sessions in the evenings and at weekends. At Queen's Hospital, one of the priorities for BHRUT is to develop green Covid zones so more surgery can resume there.
Our local Trust, NHS services, and fantastic NHS staff have worked hard to control Covid and its knock-on effects on non-Covid services over the past few months. I hope this funding will alleviate many of the problems and pressures which are usually exacerbated in the winter months and put us on the best footing possible. As we start to emerge from the other side of this extraordinary period, it is vital that we use the opportunities prior to the winter months and treat as many non-Covid patients as possible. I would encourage my constituents to fully use our NHS and local services should they require them – it is exceptionally important that residents know that our NHS is open for those who need it for whatever reason.