Doctors raise the alarm over UK’s poor health care after ‘years of neglect & funding cuts!’

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Nurses demonstrating during the pandemic for a 15% pay rise and the provision of protective equipment at the level needed

DOCTORS have raised the alarm on the misery of the nation’s poor health caused by years of Tory government neglect and funding cuts!

In a BMA report, published on Wednesday, doctors across the UK have shared their experiences of the impact of appalling health inequalities the country is suffering.
The BMA believes a decade of spending cuts and government disregard for public health have left thousands of people with poor or deteriorating health.
As a bleak winter of poverty and economic hardship threatens to plunge the country into a health crisis, medics are calling on the Government to act.
In a new report The Country is Getting Sicker, the BMA has brought together testimony from doctors who report picking up the pieces of a broken social safety net, decimated public services, in-work poverty, and a longstanding failure to protect public health.
The report identifies three key threats to the health of the nation:

  • The cost-of-living crisis, which means many people are having to choose between feeding themselves and their families with healthy food or heating their home.
  • The cuts to public services announced in the Autumn Statement, which though delayed, still risk adding to the hundreds of thousands of excess deaths the last decade of cuts has already contributed to.
  • The erosion of government policies that keep us healthy by tackling the root causes of ill health such as alcohol use, obesity, and smoking. The government must urgently show its ongoing commitment to key policies that keep us well, including restricting junk food adverts online and on tv and publishing an updated Tobacco Control plan to meet its ambition for England to be smoke-free by 2030.

The BMA has received testimony from doctors from across the country. It has heard harrowing stories from doctors trying to support patients who are broken by the stress of not being able to afford to stay well, unsure where their next meal is coming from or how they will pay their bills.
Testimony from these doctors includes:
‘During my conversation with my patient, they broke down and started to tell me about being unable to cope, having no money, and being in despair because they had paid for transport to the hospital, was leaving still in pain, and having to put out more money to get home with no answers. They reported that they weren’t sure where their next meal was coming from and suicidal ideation due to bills,’ General surgeon, Scotland.
‘How can we advocate lifestyle changes to patients who have high processed diet and can’t afford healthy food, haven’t got time to do exercise because the demands of juggling family and work,’ GP, Sheffield.
‘Patients from these deprived areas often lack an advocate to help them navigate the nebulous health care system, which has negative effects on their healthcare outcomes and experience. This adds to a sense of futility which is felt by me and my co-workers day upon day as we struggle to meet a need greater than any one service can provide,’ Acute care physician, North West England.
Professor Martin McKee, President of the BMA, said: ‘What we have seen from doctors across the UK here is a cry of pain. Treating patients at the best of times can be a difficult, stressful, and emotionally draining experience. These are not the best of times.
‘Doctors are struggling to pick up the pieces of government failures. Too many people simply don’t know if their families will have money, food or shelter from one week to the next and doctors are left feeling helpless in the face of ever-increasing levels of ill-health. How can we expect otherwise, when they’re forced to send patients back to cold homes, to meagre meals, and to the endless stress of ever-rising costs.
‘The most upsetting part is how avoidable all this is. Budgets for all the things that we need for health, whether in local government, welfare, housing, and many other sectors have been eroded for more than a decade. Jeremy Hunt, in his Autumn Statement, said it was this supposed fiscal “discipline” that meant he could show more generosity to the NHS now. Not only is a sick population more expensive to treat, but it is also a major barrier to the economic growth we all agree is needed.
‘Doctors will not stand by while the people they treat suffer needlessly from a broken system – today we are raising the alarm.’
Meanwhile, the BMA says a decision by NHS England to halt the automatic, blanket roll-out of a scheme that would have given all NHS patients in England prospective online access to their GP-held records by the end of the month, is the ‘right thing to do’ for patient safety.
The decision comes after a series of talks between the Association and NHS England, in which the BMA made clear many practices would not be ready to roll out the programme in a safe way for patients, and that it didn’t comply with their data protection obligations.
Before now, every practice in England would have seen the mass roll-out occur on November 30th, which gives patients the ability to view their prospective GP medical record via the NHS App.
While some practices were ready to implement this, many expressed concerns over safety aspects and that it wasn’t fit for purpose at the present time.
As data controllers of the patient record, GPs need to be sure the right safeguarding measures are in place to protect certain vulnerable patients who might access their records – for example, for those living with an abusive partner, or patients with particular health conditions.
Practices that have written to their IT clinical software supplier to ask that they do not turn on the functionality, will not see the programme switched on automatically on the 30th November, as had been planned.
Those that have not sent such a letter will be contacted by their system supplier to discuss what happens next, and when switch on will occur for them. These practices can still opt-out at this stage by sending a letter to their suppliers. The BMA will be in dialogue with IT clinical software suppliers on the next steps.
Patients can still request access to their digital records on an individual basis, as is the case now.
The BMA’s GP England committee (GPC England) is committed to working with NHS England over the coming months to ensure that progress on the programme going forward will be safe for patients, streamlined for practices and comply with data protection regulations.
Dr David Wrigley, deputy chair of GPC England at the BMA, said: ‘We’re pleased to hear that NHS England has decided to review the pace and timing of the automatic, mass roll-out of the Citizens’ Access programme. This is, without doubt, the right thing to do for patient safety.
‘We want patients to be able to access their GP medical records, but this must be done carefully, with the appropriate safeguards in place to protect them from any potential harm. The deadline of November 30th was, for many practices, just too soon to do this, and removing it will come as a huge relief to GPs and their teams across the country.
‘We’re pleased that our members’ concerns have been listened to and are open to working with NHS England to revise the programme accordingly to find a way forward that works for everyone.’