The UK National Health Service (NHS) has introduced measures to expedite patient discharge and improve performance over the coming winter months.

These plans include the addition of 5,000 hospital beds and the establishment of care traffic control centres, which aim to allow health workers to locate and co-ordinate the fastest discharge alternatives for patients.

The NHS will also expand its use of Acute Respiratory Hubs to provide urgent same-day assessment for conditions such as Covid-19, flu and RSV.

These hubs are planned to be made available across all parts of the UK, with the NHS preparing for the possibility of higher levels of respiratory illness this winter.

In addition, more than 800 new ambulances will be made available. 

These measures are said to be part of the NHS’ efforts to increase its capacity ahead of the ‘challenging’ winter months.

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UK Health Minister Helen Whately said: “Our Urgent and Emergency Care Recovery Plan, backed by record funding, has already improved accident and emergency (A&E) performance and ambulance response times.

“Thanks to that plan, the NHS is getting 800 new ambulances, 5,000 extra hospital beds and 10,000 virtual ward beds.

“Getting ready for winter early goes hand in hand with cutting NHS waiting times – one of the government’s top five priorities.”

NHS national urgent and emergency care director Sarah-Jane Marsh said: “Ahead of winter, we will not only have more ambulances and beds in place, but we will also be continuing to work more closely as an entire NHS and social care system, increasing the capacity of community services that help keep patients safe at home.

“We will continue to build on this progress and do everything we can to put the NHS on the front foot ahead of what has the potential to be another challenging winter with Covid-19 and flu.”