‘Pandora’s Box is about to be opened’ says BMA’s Banfield He adds: ‘This is far bigger than the Post Office scandal!’

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PHILIP BANFIELD, Chair of the BMA council addressing a mass rally in Whitehall in defence of the NHS

DOCTORS are under attack financially, professionally and morally, and calling an election doesn’t get the government off the hook, British Medical Association leader Professor Philip Banfield warns today.

Banfield is set to say in a major speech to the BMA conference in Belfast that, despite calling an election, the Prime Minister still needs to answer for the ‘empty promises’ that have resulted in junior doctors in England calling another strike for later this week.

In a preview of Banfield’s speech, the BMA said: ‘He will talk of the terrible impact on doctors of the government’s cuts in spending and investment, doctors fears of speaking out about patient safety issues and how the use of physician associates, who are not qualified doctors, are putting the profession and patient care at risk.’

The BMA Chair of Council, will tell doctors, that, ‘it will be deeds, not words, that will guide our relationship with any new government’ and there is a need to reset the way doctors across the UK are treated by government and employers.

The BMA press release said: ‘Professor Banfield will speak of his frustration that the Westminster Government has strung junior doctors along for 20 months with no intention of finding a resolution.’

It added: ‘His speech will also talk about other aspects: poor investment in doctors; the financial and workforce crisis facing general practice with record demand on GPs, and that this lack of investment has been “An act of vandalism to plunge general practice in such dire straits”.’

‘As revealed in the BMA report last week, significant numbers of locum GPs cannot get work, despite practices being unable to cope with patient demand.

‘Professor Banfield will say that “To have highly qualified doctors turning to other jobs to earn a living, whilst GP practices cannot meet the demands placed on them, is simply bonkers”.’

‘He will tell members of the BMA that the state of general practice around the UK is a mess created by those in power who have aided and abetted the decline of general practice and with it, the morale and goodwill of GPs.

The BMA surveyed doctors about whistleblowing in 2018 and again a few months ago. Banfield is set to say: ‘The findings are grim; doctors are now more frightened than ever to speak up when they see patient safety issues, or levels of care at risk. They told the BMA their reluctance is  born out of the fear that they or their colleagues will be punished, and careers ended if they speak up.’

The BMA said: ‘Professor Banfield will call for the regulation of non-medical managers. He will say that the BMA “will not stand idly by as employers try to silence those who raise concerns, and it has not. . .

‘ “Pandora’s box is about to be thrown wide open. This is far bigger than the Post Office scandal and the BMA will do all it can to help uncover wrongdoing”.’

The BMA said: ‘The theme of patients at risk continues in Professor Banfield’s speech, particularly concerning the use of Physician Associates (PAs) in the NHS.

‘He will reaffirm the BMA’s commitment to bring about change and to not back down in the call for a halt in any further recruitment of PAs until the medical profession’s concerns are fully addressed.’