UK pledges £5.4 bn for pandemic-hit state healthcare

UK pledges £5.4 bn for pandemic-hit state healthcare
2 min read
06 September, 2021
The UK government on Monday announced £5.4 billion (6.3 billion euros, $7.5 billion) in extra funding for the state-funded healthcare system to treat virus cases and clear a massive backlog in routine operations.
Javid said the waiting lists would get worse before they get better (Getty)

The UK government on Monday announced £5.4 billion (6.3 billion euros, $7.5 billion) in extra funding for the state-funded healthcare system to treat virus cases and clear a massive backlog in routine operations.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and health minister Sajid Javid announced the extra cash, to be handed out over the next six months, saying it would help "manage the immediate pressures of the pandemic".

The state-funded National Health Service, or NHS, has struggled to cope with soaring virus rates and has diverted medics away from their usual specialisations to help treat Covid-19 patients, leading to long waiting lists for operations and treatment. 

The largest part of the extra funding, £2.8 billion is allocated to virus-related costs such as enhanced infection control measures, the government said, while £1 billion will help tackle the backlog in other treatment and operations.

Johnson acknowledged that "treating Covid patients has created huge backlogs" and said the money would go "straight to the frontline" to provide treatments that patients "aren't getting quickly enough."

Javid said the waiting lists would get worse before they get better due to more people coming forward for treatment following relaxation of virus restrictions.

The health ministry predicted the waiting list for routine operations such as hip replacements and cataract removal could soar to 13 million.

The extra funding announced is only for England while other regions will receive up to £1 billion this and next year.

The UK's total virus cases rose to 7.02 million on Monday. 

The announcement comes as the government is also proposing a hike in a tax on earnings to help pay for care homes for older people, many of whom currently have to meet these costs privately.