£50 million to build Scottish Ambulance Service capacity.
A £50 million funding boost for Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) recruitment and up to £12 million to expand Hospital at Home are among measures to support the health and care system this winter.
The Scottish Government and COSLA’s joint Winter Plan, published today, identifies funding for SAS to support work already underway to recruit a further 317 frontline staff to help increase capacity to emergency response. It will also see 18 additional clinicians working in the call centre hub who, through additional triage, can offer patients alternative treatment routes in cases which are not time-critical, reducing the number of hospital admissions.
The expansion of Hospital at Home, which enables people to be treated at home rather than on a ward, is intended to deliver at least 380 additional beds this winter – significantly increasing the total service capacity.
The Scottish Government has been working closely with COSLA, Health and Social Care Partnerships, and NHS Boards on a number of further measures to ensure they are prepared for the winter period. This includes a Delayed Discharge Action Plan and improvements to the reporting of data to better identify specific areas for further support or escalation.
Health Secretary Michael Matheson said:
“Our highly skilled and committed workforce are the cornerstone of our response every winter, both in health and social care. I am extremely grateful for their continued hard work and dedication in the face of sustained pressure. As we approach the Winter period their efforts will be vital in ensuring we deliver high quality care for the public.
“We are in no doubt that this winter will be extremely challenging for our health and social care system. Our Winter plan builds on the lessons we have learned from previous years and preparations have been on-going since spring. Our whole system approach is based on ensuring people can access the care that is right for them – at the right time and in the right place.
“Our additional investment of up to £12 million to expand the Hospital at Home service will allow people, especially elderly patients, patients with respiratory conditions and children, to receive treatments in the comfort of their own home and will crucially help reduce pressure on our A&E departments this winter.
“As a result our significant investment of over £15 million, an additional 1,000 nurses, midwives and Allied Health Professional from overseas have joined NHS Scotland in the last two years to bolster our existing workforce this winter. Our £50 million funding boost for the Scottish Ambulance Service will also help tackle increased demand and support on-going recruitment to drive up capacity for emergency response. This investment will also help reduce the need for people to go to hospital which is a key part of our approach this winter.”
Cllr Paul Kelly, COSLA’s Health and Social Care Spokesperson said:
“As key partners in ensuring people and communities are safe and cared for over the winter period, and indeed throughout the year, local authorities have a vital role in enabling people to continue to safely access the care and support they need when they need it. We expect the winter to be a very challenging period across the whole health and social care system at a time when the system is already experiencing significant demand pressures and challenges with recruitment and retention. That is why COSLA have worked closely with Scottish Government in producing this plan, recognising the importance of the integration of health and social care, and the clear leadership role of Local Government in doing everything we can to maximise capacity across health, social care, and social work, and ensure people get safe and timely access to services during peak winter pressures.”
The Scottish Government’s Winter Plan Health and Social Care Winter Preparedness Plan 2023/24 - gov.scot (www.gov.scot) has been developed jointly with COSLA.
Hospital at Home enables people to receive treatments that would otherwise require them to be admitted to hospital, such as an intravenous drip or oxygen supply. It also provides access to hospital tests under the care of a consultant in their own home. The purpose of the service is to reduce hospital admissions by providing treatments in the comfort and familiarity of their own home. The expansion is funded from Barnett consequentials announced by the UK Government in September.
A record number of additional staff have been recruited to the Scottish Ambulance Service in the last three years with 1,388 people joining the service since 2020.
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