‘PLAYING A DANGEROUS GAME’ – Scottish BMA condemns coalition

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The leader of Scotland’s doctors has yesterday warned that a series of direct attacks on the medical workforce is testing the goodwill of the profession.

In his New Year message, Dr Brian Keighley, Chairman of the BMA in Scotland, said: ‘The NHS should not bear the responsibility for the failings of the banking system and doctors should not pay the price of poor financial management by governments.

‘It is disappointing that over the course of this year, cuts to the NHS workforce and attacks on doctors’ contracts have been identified by politicians as the way to navigate the NHS through these difficult financial times.

‘While this might deliver some savings in the short term, providing the quick fix to see politicians through the next elections, it will have a long term and persistent damaging impact on patient care.

‘The NHS is nothing without its staff and a service that is only being held together by goodwill and the unpaid overtime worked by hard-pressed nurses and demoralised doctors is inevitably going to struggle to maintain the quality that our patients rightly deserve.

‘As doctors, we are fully aware of the financial difficulties facing the NHS and are playing our part in trying to minimise the impact on patients.

‘But government must look again at whole areas of health spending, in partnership with NHS staff.’

He warned: ‘The government is playing a dangerous game with the medical profession.

‘Pay freezes, attacks on the contractual rights of hospital doctors, threats to pensions, the halting of the distinction awards scheme for highest achieving consultants and the ever-increasing workload being dumped, without resource, on general practice, is driving the government and doctors apart at a time when partnership is required.

‘The NHS cannot operate without the goodwill of doctors and other staff.

‘The government should remember that and work with us; otherwise the NHS will certainly struggle to get through these difficult times.’