The Welsh Government has announced an £800m support fund for the NHS ahead of the ‘largest ever’ winter flu vaccination programme, an expected surge in non-Covid care, and a potential second wave of infections.
The new package will go towards ensuring a ‘reliable supply of PPE is available’ for GP practices, the Welsh Government said, as well as helping practices to deliver this winter’s flu vaccination programme.
In light of potential further Covid-19 peaks in autumn and winter, funding will be made available to ensure ‘faster turnaround of test results to support contact tracing, so that Wales can respond rapidly to contain any spread of the virus’, it added.
In secondary care, money will go towards expanding capacity in existing hospital sites and access to field hospitals as a contingency.
Rebecca Evans, Welsh Government finance minister, said she is ‘confident that today’s announcement will provide our NHS with the stability it needs to respond to the pandemic’.
‘Open up further NHS services’
The Welsh Government said this latest investment takes the total amount of Welsh Government Covid-19 support for NHS organisations to more than £1.3bn.
It comes after the Welsh Government made a further £40m available to social care providers this week, to meet the additional costs associated with the pandemic.
Vaughan Gething, Welsh Government health and social services minister, said: ‘While our services rigorously prepare every year for winter pressures, 2020 may be unlike any other. This £800m package will help with many aspects as we move into the next phase of the virus such as PPE supplies, testing and an ambitious flu vaccination programme.’
Darren Hughes, director of the Welsh NHS Confederation, welcomed the funding announcement to support the Covid-19 response, but said the investment would also have to be used to ‘make sure we can open up further NHS services, so patients can get more of the treatment they need’.