NHS ‘running on nothing but fumes’ – BMA

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BMA, RCN and other unions demonstrating in defence of the NHS in March
BMA, RCN and other unions demonstrating in defence of the NHS in March

THE TORY ‘government has the NHS running on nothing but fumes’, warns British Medical Association (BMA) Council Chair Dr Mark Porter.

Addressing doctors at the BMA’s Annual Representative Meeting (ARM) in Bournemouth, this morning Dr Porter will call on the government not to ignore concerns from patients and doctors about the future of the NHS.

New figures published today by the BMA reveal that almost seven in ten people believe the NHS is heading in the wrong direction, with funding, the NHS remaining free at the point of use and waiting times topping the list of concerns. This comes as nearly three quarters of doctors warn that patient access to services is worsening and staff shortages are rife.

Addressing the conference, Dr Porter will say: ‘We have a health service at breaking point. Run by ministers who wilfully ignore the pleas of the profession and the impact on patients. The lack of beds, the lack of doctors, and the queues for treatment that grow and grow are not inevitable.

‘It doesn’t have to be this way. It is the result of an explicit political choice. We don’t have to spend less of our GDP than the other leading European economies on health. Our government has chosen to do this. If we spent the average – the average, not the most – then patients would see £15bn extra investment in the English NHS within five years. The government wants a world-class NHS with a third-class settlement.

‘The government speaks of ambitions and it takes a certain ambition to run a health service by picking the pockets of its staff. Year after year, the government has cut the real-terms pay of doctors, nurses, and other NHS staff. Some doctors have seen a 17 per cent drop in salary. And with it, a dose of emotional blackmail. You either accept the pay cut, or services will have to close.

‘This is a not a choice we should have to make. This is a choice that the government has made, to deny the NHS the resources it needs in the face of all available evidence. It is the wrong choice. It is wrong for doctors, it is wrong for nurses, it is wrong for the legion of healthcare professionals who care for patients and their families, day in and day out. Passing the buck is not a solution. Blaming staff is not a solution. Giving the NHS the resources that patients have told us they need – that’s a solution.’

• Meanwhile, the Royal College of Nursing is launching its campaign against the 1% pay cap with a protest of frontline nurses outside the Department of Health at noon tomorrow, Tuesday 27 June. Members of the RCN will join a ‘summer of protest’ action in every part of the UK.

A recent poll of members found 91% of nursing staff would support a form of industrial action.