Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA chair of council, said:
“We welcome news that Amanda Pritchard has been appointed the head of NHS England and that she is the first woman to lead it. We are pleased that she had been working in the NHS for more than 20 years, gaining valuable experience and a wealth of knowledge and we hope that in her new role she will demonstrate her commitment to our NHS and its values.
“Ms Pritchard couldn’t be taking up her role at a more pivotal time for the health service in England; we are far from recovering from the pandemic and at the same time we have millions of people wating to receive treatment – the biggest backlog of care the NHS has ever seen. All against a backdrop of decades of underfunding.
“Her immediate priority must be to address the workforce crisis and understand the enormity of the situation – doctors, utterly exhausted mentally and physically, feel like there’s no end in sight, and we are losing talented and experienced professionals because they feel so undervalued. Ms Pritchard needs to work to put their trust back in the profession by showing she recognises their plight and to put measures in place to support their wellbeing. It also incredibly important that genuine effort is made to tackle the inequalities present in the health service. We would expect Ms Pritchard to spearhead the necessary changes that are needed to do this and ensure a fairer working environment for all.
“Urgent action must also be taken to address capacity pressures. This is directly contributing to our workforce crisis as staff feel overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the task ahead, with many saying they feel as though they have no choice but to leave or retire early. Fundamentally, however, it is hurting patients who are being left in limbo not knowing when they can get the treatment they need and deserve.
“We want to be confident that Ms Pritchard is willing to stand up to Government when needed, and that she is on the side of hard-working healthcare professionals who have gone unheard and underappreciated for too long. We hope that Ms Pritchard will be able to provide the health service with the decisive leadership and commitment to investment it needs at this critical juncture. We look forward to working with her constructively in the coming weeks and months.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.