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NHS winter budget boosted

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The government has boosted winter funding with the NHS to alleviate pressures on services, the DH has announced

In order to cope with the winter pressures, the NHS budget for winter has been increased by £300 million this year, bringing the total to £700 million, a 75 per cent increase on 2013 funding. The government allocated £400 million in June to ensure that NHS services were not overstretched. The DH estimates that up £25 million of the extra funding will go towards increasing access to GP services, although as funding will be allocated at a local level, it cannot guarantee this.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: 'We know the cold weather can bring added pressure so, as in previous years, we've given the NHS extra resources to make sure it is better prepared than ever before, with robust local plans in place from June which address the need to plan for year round demands. We are boosting frontline services and expect the NHS to ensure strong performance is delivered locally.'

However, the plans have faced criticism that it is a short-term fix, which does not solve the long-term issue. Tom Sandford, the RCN's director in England, said: 'NHS trusts across the country are running up huge financial deficits and relying on government bailouts in order to keep providing services. Rather than short-term fixes, the government needs to deliver a long-term commitment to putting the NHS on a sustainable financial footing. This is what nursing staff and the patients they care for want to see.'

NHS England has launched a campaign advising people over 60 with non-urgent medical problems seek advice from community pharmacists before visiting primary care services and A&E. The campaign, Feeling under the weather, aims to reduce pressure on emergency care services, particularly A&E, by reducing the number of over-60s accessing these services, with minor illnesses that could have been treated through with health advice and self-care information from community pharmacy services before they became seriously unwell.

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The winter months put pressure on NHS emergency services, as those with long-term conditions require enhanced care, a DH spokesperson said.

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