Rishi Sunak will pledge to invest £ 6bn in tackling NHS waiting lists across England and improving the use of digital technology in hospitals in this week’s budget.
The chancellor is expected to announce £ 5.9 billion in wednesday statement to reduce the backlog of elective tests and procedures, with the support of at least 100 ‘one-stop’ community diagnostic centers to help those waiting for clinical tests such as MRIs, ultrasounds and CT scans.
Efficiency and safety on the front line NHS will also be bolstered by a £ 2.1bn investment to modernize digital technology and free up valuable time for NHS staff, according to the Treasury.
Millions of patients awaiting diagnostic tests and elective operations will benefit from the £ 6bn injection, Mr Sunak will tell MPs.
It comes as it has been revealed that nearly six million people in England are waiting to start routine hospital treatment – a record.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned that “the status quo will not be enough”.
The latest figures from NHS England, released earlier this month, show a total of 5.7 million people were expected to start routine hospital treatment at the end of August – the highest figure since records began in August 2007.
Of those, some 9,754 people waited more than two years to start hospital treatment, more than three times the 2,722 people who waited more than two years in April.
Among them are people awaiting hip and knee replacements and cataract surgery.
NHS England has asked hospitals to eliminate all more than two-year waits by March 2022.
On Wednesday, Mr. Sunak will present funding that will support the goal of providing around 30% more elective activities by 2024-25 compared to pre-pandemic levels.
A total of £ 2.3bn of funding will be specifically used to transform diagnostic centers across England, with the 100 ‘one-stop’ units in addition to the 44 already announced.
The centers will transform the screening process for millions of patients and make it easier for them to get the tests and scans they need closer to home, according to the Treasury.
It is hoped that this, in turn, will help catch cancer and other life-threatening illnesses as quickly as possible – with the ultimate goal of saving more lives.
The Treasury expects the centers to help clear most of the existing backlog of tests caused by the pandemic by the end of Parliament.
The Chancellor said the investment “is a game changer.”
“We are committed to getting health services back on track and ensuring that no one is waiting for life-saving tests or treatment,” Sunak said.
“This is a revolutionary investment in the NHS to make sure we have the right buildings, equipment and systems to provide patients with the help they need and to make sure the NHS is ready for the future. “
Mr Javid said the government “will do everything in its power to make sure people get the treatment they need as quickly as possible”.
“This £ 6 billion investment will support the delivery of millions of additional checks, tests and procedures to patients across the country,” he said.
“The status quo will not be enough, which is why we will reform care with more community diagnostic centers, new surgical centers and the latest technology to help recover NHS services by tackling waiting lists . “
The regulation to reduce the backlog of treatment is also expected to include £ 1.5bn for increased bed capacity, equipment and new surgical centers to deal with wait times for surgery elective.
Each hub will be equipped with four to five operating theaters and the sum is in addition to the £ 500million capital investment already pledged by the government for 2021-2022 to help restore elective services.
As part of the £ 2.1 billion earmarked for new technology, improved computer systems will help NHS staff access the fastest digital and broadband recordings.
Mr. Sunak has vowed to do “whatever it takes” to support families with the cost of living, as he anticipates his speech in the House of Commons this week.
Among its promises already announced:
• £ 1.4 billion to encourage foreign investment in UK companies and attract foreign talent
• £ 700 million to be devoted mainly to the new postBrexit borders and immigration system, as well as a new maritime patrol fleet
• £ 435 million for victim services, crime prevention and the Crown Prosecution Service
• £ 560million for adult math coaching to help increase numeracy
• A six-month extension of the COVID recovery loan program until June 2022
The budget will be released on Wednesday after PMQ.