The Government also pledged to address disparities in dental care and tackle “dental deserts”, saying this would make it easier for dentists trained abroad to work in the NHS.
Ms Coffey told MPs the £500m Adult Welfare Relief Fund would serve as a “down payment in the rebalancing of health and social care funding”. But trust leaders on Thursday raised concerns about the source of the new funds and asked for assurances they would not be taken from existing NHS budgets.
Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “Although it is approaching the 11th hour, the Government has rightly heeded our calls to reintroduce centralized ‘assessment discharge’ funding this winter.
“However, NHS leaders need to be quick to clarify how much of this £500m fund is additional investment and how much is to be found from existing budgets.”
It is believed that half of the £500million will come from the money NHS employers will no longer have to pay for Social Security contributions after the Health and Social Security Contribution is scrapped. The rest is expected to come from underspending, efficiency gains and savings opportunities within the NHS.
Sources warned that any reprioritization of current funding could result in cuts in services. Charities, welfare providers and councils said the fund would not “touch the sides” of what the ailing care sector needs.
Age UK director Caroline Abrahams said the organization wanted the Health Secretary to announce an immediate pay rise for nurses, adding: “Without them we remain concerned that nurses will continue to walk away, attracted by significantly better conditions in other sectors .”
Cllr Tim Oliver, the chair of the County Councils Network, said the funding would help alleviate bed blocking but added other problems would not be addressed, including 500,000 people on care waiting lists.
The Our Plan for Patients also includes plans for people to see a GP within two weeks, increase the number of 999 and 111 emergency responders and provide 7,000 additional hospital beds by Christmas. Of these, 2,500 will be virtual, allowing people to stay at home and be monitored remotely.
Ms Coffey told MPs “too few” GP practices were regularly offering appointments within two weeks, and vowed people could see how well their practice compared to others.