NHS unveils new plans to slash waiting lists and prepare for extra demand this winter | The Sun

HUNDREDS more hospital beds are being opened to cut wait lists and prepare for extra demand in winter.

Ministers have bankrolled 900 new NHS beds, towards a target 5,000, in the hope more ward space will speed up A&E visits and increase surgery capacity.

There are around 105,000 general medical beds in total across England.

Waiting lists last week hit another record high, with 7.6million in a queue for treatment.

Backlog-busting plans include increasing bed numbers, using more private hospital capacity and widening “virtual wards” where patients can be monitored at home.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “These 900 new beds will mean more people can be treated quickly, speeding up flow through hospitals and reducing frustratingly long waits for treatment.”

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The beds will open at 30 NHS trusts – out of more than 120 – using part of a £250million lump sum.

They will be split across inpatient wards, A&E and intermediate care for patients waiting to go home.

Hospitals see huge surges in patient numbers during colder months, when cold, flu and Covid are rampant and make other health conditions worse.

NHS chief Amanda Pritchard said: “Winter is always a busy time for the NHS so it is right that we put robust plans in place as early as possible to boost capacity.

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“Our plans aim to reduce waiting times for patients and to transform services with an expansion of same day care and virtual wards.”

Health chiefs have warned the NHS is set for its busiest summer yet, as strikes batter efforts to reduce waits.

Junior doctors finish their fifth strike today after beginning the walkout on Friday.

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