‘WE HAVE one year to save the National Health Service (NHS). An awful lot of Trusts are in a dire financial state.’

This was a warning delivered to journalists yesterday by Mr James Johnson, the Chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA).

Speaking on the ‘State of the NHS, he said the government’s declaration, that there would be no ‘bail outs’ and that this year Trusts must ‘break even’, meant that executives and boards were ‘taking drastic action, no matter what the cost’.

He said: ‘In 2008, the year on year significant rise in additional NHS resources will fall back dramatically to figures around the 2.5 per cent level.

‘Despite the extra money, NHS Trusts all over the country are in deficit, clinics cancelled, wards closed, operating theatres being under-used and staff made redundant or posts not advertised.

‘At the same time we hear that the government believes that by 2010-11 we will have an excess of 3,200 consultants alongside a shortage of 1,200 GPs, and 1,100 too few junior and staff grade doctors. . . .

‘To add to the problems we know there will shortly be a huge bulge in the number of junior doctors chasing training jobs due to the abolition of the Senior House Officer Grade.’

The BMA leader called on the government ‘to reinstate clinician-led workforce planning’.

He said the government was financing medical schools to produce doctors for the NHS. It had ‘a duty to make sure the NHS jobs are available to them when they are fully trained’.

On the ‘re-configuration of hospitals’, Johnson said: ‘If it is going to improve care for patients, we support it.

‘If it is being done for lack of money, we are not going to support that.’

By the end of this year, ‘50 consultant orthopaedic surgeons will not be able to get a job’.

The BMA Chairman was asked what action the BMA proposed over current consultant redundancies and the lack of training places for junior doctors.

A recent survey showed two-thirds of the latter would back strike action over this.

The BMA Chairman said that it was expected that all junior doctors would find placements.

He added that ‘only a handful of consultants’ were being made redundant at present and the BMA’s local industrial relations officers were ‘representing them aggressively and successfully’.

Johnson said the BMA believed in a consultant-led hospital service to make sure patients got the best possible care.

Similarly, primary care had to be led by GPs. He said: ‘We are very very opposed to management referral action.

‘The GP has to decide where that patient goes. To second guess this is very bad for patient care.’

• Second News story


Hundreds of health workers’ jobs are being threatened at Whipps Cross Hospital as savage cuts are forced through.

One hospital worker, who withheld her name for fear of victimisation, said: ‘I was asked to interview for my own post after working at Whipps Cross for seven years and was unsuccessful in my interview.

‘Therefore, I was put on the “at risk” list for four weeks.

‘The trust are supposed to find me alternative employment within the trust and if they are unsuccessful then I will be considered for redundancy.

‘It is a bloody cheek to ask us to re-apply for our own jobs because it is making co-workers compete against each other.

‘This is the trust’s way of weeding out people they don’t want.

‘I think there are too many middle men pulling the strings, while us workers have no say in what is happening to the hospital.

‘Workers’ concerns and patient concerns are not taken into account. Patients’ lives will be put at risk because of all the cuts.

‘I think we could run this place much better than the bureaucrats.

‘That is why I am joining the council of action, because I think that Whipps Cross should stay open for the benefit of the local community.

‘We have had a hospital on this site for 100 years.

‘How do they expect the elderly and the infirm to travel miles to places like Romford for their care when we have perfectly good facilities here?

‘Residents and patients, staff and trade unionists should get together and keep this place open by any means, including occupation. Because it is in the benefit of all.’