A review of 2017 – a year of giving members a voice
by Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair
Last year the crisis affecting the NHS came well and truly to the fore and never was it more important for the entire profession to come together to make their voices heard and to begin the hard work of finding solutions to the issues our members face.
The day-to-day reality for our members is one of working in a system under pressure, of working in a culture of blame, fear and bullying and harassment, and of working in a system wilfully underfunded by politicians.
The BMA has been at the forefront of exposing the impact on our members and on patients. In England, the NHS has broken all the wrong records – A&E attendances, waiting times, trolley waits have all reached record highs. As a result, people are left suffering, waiting in pain or with untreated symptoms, as well as overworked doctors feeling demoralised because they can’t provide the care that patients need.
The case of Dr Bawa-Garba and the actions of the GMC have also raised serious concerns amongst the profession across the UK and we have impressed upon the Government the impact it has had on doctors, and we are working with stakeholders to address concerns around systemic factors impacting patient care, racial bias and criminalising medical error.
This is not to say that the past year has not involved significant wins for the BMA in championing for our members and our patients. In Scotland, following years of campaigning by the BMA, a minimum unit price of alcohol has finally been introduced, while the sugar tax lobbied for by the BMA has been implemented. In England politicians have followed the lead of the Welsh Government in introducing an opt-out for organ donation – long called for by the BMA. And both in the UK and in Brussels the BMA has been one of the leading voices as the date for Brexit nears.
While the crisis facing our members may be worsening the BMA, as the only organisation to represent all doctors working across all sectors of the NHS, is uniquely placed to lead the way in offering a solution.
While it is the Government’s responsibility to put an end to the underfunding of the NHS and ensure the service is properly funded and publicly delivered, the profession too has a role to play, which is why we have launched a new project – ‘Caring, supportive, collaborative: a future vision for the NHS’ – to begin an honest conversation with our profession about the sort of NHS doctors want to work in and how we can work together to meet the challenges we face.