ADDRESSING the BMA’s Annual Representative Meeting (ARM) this morning, Dr Mark Porter will reaffirm the BMA’s position on seven-day hospital services – that patients should have access to high quality healthcare whenever they need it.
But he urges the government to ‘show us the detail of what you mean. Show us how the country will pay for it. Show us something real, because all we’ve seen so far is the pursuit of easy headlines.’
Despite Cameron pledging that England will be the ‘first country in the world to deliver a truly seven-day NHS’, the government has so far failed to reveal any details on how this will be funded and resourced at a time when the NHS is facing a £30 billion funding gap and a chronic shortage of doctors, stresses the BMA.
In his address to the ARM, Dr Porter will say: ‘In recent weeks, we’ve been promised a massive expansion of NHS services.
‘Along with colleagues in other healthcare professions we deliver those services, so we’re asking: “how?”
‘Let me be absolutely clear where the BMA stands on the issue. Doctors want the care we provide for sick patients to be of the same high standard, seven days a week.
‘Despite the lazy caricatures, last weekend, next weekend, and every weekend since we’ve had the NHS, we already have doctors of every level of seniority working in our hospitals in acute, emergency and urgent services.
‘But ask any doctor and they will tell you that the NHS has never been resourced the same on Saturday and Sunday as it is from Monday to Friday.
‘If the government has noticed this too, then hello and welcome. We will work with any government to improve outcomes for these vulnerable patients. Of course we want to do that.
‘And here’s the good news. There are doctors around the country who are improving services seven days a week.
‘Led by patient need. Supported by good employers. Protected from working unsafe hours.
‘There could and should be more of this. The Prime Minister says that he wants us to become the ‘first country in the world to deliver a truly seven-day NHS’.
‘We all want our patients to have the care they need when they need it. So show us the detail of what you mean. Show us how the country will pay for it.
‘Show us something real, because all we’ve seen so far is the pursuit of easy headlines.
‘The government says we can just move a few shifts around. But what about the weekday surgeries, clinics and wards left without doctors when that’s done? We don’t hear about that.’
Last Friday, BMA GPs committee chair Chaand Nagpaul warned that demands for seven-day services were simply unattainable while the profession remained overwhelmed and under-resourced.
He said: ‘The secretary of state is right to highlight the great strengths of general practice and the need to increase investment to support this vital service that is so valued by patients.
‘GPs want and need more time to care for their patients, but at the moment, nine out of 10 GPs feel that excessive workload is damaging the quality of care they can provide patients, and this is having a major demoralising effect on the profession — one that’s pushing more and more doctors toward the exit.’