The British Medical Association says the Government has reached its last chance to listen to frontline NHS and care workers and demonstrate its commitment to safely staffing health and care services, ahead of a crucial debate in Parliament next week.
MPs will review an amendment to the Health and Care Bill in the Commons on Monday that would legally bind the Government to be transparent about current and future numbers of health and care staff versus how many are needed in England.
The amendment is backed by more than 100 organisations, including the BMA, Royal Colleges, think tanks and charities.
In March, MPs rejected an earlier version of the amendment from Baroness Cumberlege, and the Government has now told MPs to again reject it, despite it being redrafted to take into account earlier concerns raised by the Government1.
Today, in a letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care2, BMA council deputy chair Dr David Wrigley says:
“Covid-19 has highlighted and exacerbated the demands on the workforce, with burnout leading to significant numbers of doctors considering leaving the profession or reducing their hours. The BMA has estimated that the NHS in England is currently facing a shortfall of the equivalent of around 46,300 full-time doctors ... Even more worryingly, previous Health Foundation and Institute for Fiscal studies projections place the shortage at around 84,000 by 2043.
“Clearly, there is an urgent need for drastic action to address the huge workforce shortages across the system, and throughout the passage of the Bill we have warned that its current drafting will not achieve this.
“That is why, alongside more than 100 organisations, the BMA has championed this amendment to the Health and Care Bill on workforce planning that would ensure there is a legal duty for the Government to be transparent about current and future numbers of health and care staff versus how many are needed in England.
“By rejecting this amendment, many will be left questioning: what is the Government trying to hide?”
Dr Wrigley adds:
“What you have before you now is an amendment that has universal backing from the healthcare sector and which has been adapted by those listening to, and addressing, your concerns. I can see no reason for you to reject it now. This final stage of the Bill’s scrutiny is your last chance to demonstrate you are prepared to listen to frontline staff, and we are urging you in the strongest possible terms to support its inclusion in the Bill.”
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.