Rishi Sunak

Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak in a laboratory during a visit to the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Imperial Clinical Research Facility at Hammersmith Hospital in London. Photo by Jack Hill/AFP/Getty Images

The UK government will provide £6bn ($8.3bn) to the NHS to tackle backlogs caused by the coronavirus pandemic, a commitment expected to be announced in its autumn budget. 

This is to take on the millions left waiting for diagnostic tests and non-emergency operations. 

The investment in NHS capital funding will support the aim to deliver around 30% more elective activity by 2024-25 compared with pre-pandemic levels.

“This is a game-changing investment in the NHS to make sure we have the right buildings, equipment and systems to get patients the help they need and make sure the NHS is fit for the future,” said chancellor Rishi Sunak.

From the funding package, £2.3bn will be used to transform diagnostic services, with at least 100 ‘one-stop-shop’ community diagnostic centres across England, including the 44 already announced.

It also includes £1.5bn for increased bed capacity, equipment and new surgical hubs to tackle waiting times for elective surgeries. Each hub will be equipped with 4-5 surgical theatres designated for critical elective surgeries.

This is on top of the £500m capital investment in 2021-22 to help restore elective services.

£2.1bn will be invested in technology and data to ensure digital systems within hospitals and mental health care settings are as robust, connected and efficient as possible – freeing up valuable NHS staff time.

They are expected to help clear most existing test backlogs caused by the pandemic, including for CT, MRI and ultrasound scans, by the end of the parliament. This additional capacity will also ensure the resilience of our diagnostic services in the years to come, said the Treasury. 

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The announcement comes amid a slew of other spending commitments made ahead of the autumn budget which is due on Wednesday.

Among other commitments announced over the weekend, the Treasury laid out a £7bn investment in local transport with just over £1bn of that being spent on greater Manchester. There was also £3bn allocated to investment in skills training for young people and £700m for coastal patrol ships to ‘protect borders’. 

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