The NHS in England is set to receive a an extra £2.1billion to improve IT and digital technology in this week’s upcoming budget, the government has announced.
The funding forms part of a wider £5.9billion for the NHS to help clear the record high backlog of patient’s waiting for treatment, as well as buying new equipment and IT.
Part of the funding will be put towards IT upgrades such as faster broadband, the BBC reported.
Health secretary Sajid Javid told BBC Breakfast the funding was “new money” and that further details about where the money was coming from would be set out in Wednesday’s budget.
“This money is about doing even more to support them [NHS staff] in tackling those waiting lists and making sure more patients get seen more quickly.
Javid added the funding would be invested in diagnostic tools and digital solutions to free up NHS staff to spend even more time with patients.
The £5.9bn will be used to fund physical infrastructure and equipment, but not day-to-day spending.
Some £2.3bn is expected to be spent on more diagnostic tests including CTs, MRIs and ultrasounds, the government has said.
A further £1.5bn is set to be spent on more beds and equipment, including new surgical hubs.
The NHS is currently facing an unprecedented backlog of 5.4 million patients, with a further 6 million expected to be added to that list while the health service grapples with recovering from the pandemic.
Hundreds of thousands of those patients are waiting more than a year for treatment.
The extra funding is on top of the £36bn for frontline services over the next three years promised in September.
That money, which equates to £12bn a year, will be raised through a 1.25% rise in National Insurance which kicks in from April 2022. The bulk of that funding focused on reforming health and care in England.
It includes a £250m fund to boost technology in operating theatres and a further £250m to increase operating theatre capacity and improve productivity in hospitals.
The elective recovery technology fund aims to provide access to “cutting edge technologies” according to the governments Build Back Better plan.