Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, has awarded Winter Pressures funding totalling £6 million to Heatherwood & Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Trust as well as three East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).
The funding – which ensures that hospitals are able to properly prepare for the colder months of the year – was requested by the Trust and the Bracknell & Ascot, Windsor, Ascot & Maidenhead and Slough CCGs.
It will see a number of improvements made, including the provision of more home-based services for patients, a rise in the number of ‘on the day’ GP appointments and boosting Wexham Park’s A&E services.
Heatherwood & Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Trust’s chief executive, Philippa Slinger, told Get Reading that the essential funding would also be used to provide extra beds and to employ more staff. "This is fantastic news for our patients and for the health and social care system in Berkshire. The additional funding will go a long way in helping us to achieve a number of improvements. We look forward to…using the funding effectively and efficiently to benefit the whole health and social care system and those that need to access it,” she said.
Meanwhile, the chair of East Berkshire Urgent Care Programme Group, Dr Jim O’Donnell, urged the general public to assist with the additional pressure that the hospitals will be under as winter comes. “Although we’re receiving this additional resource, we would also like to remind our patients and the public they can help us deliver great care by themselves using local NHS services really efficiently.
“This means not attending A&E unless it’s a medical emergency. Instead you can call your GP, visit a pharmacist or walk-in centre or call NHS 111,” he said.