BMA responds to Conservative Party General Election manifesto

by BMA media team

Media release from the BMA

Location: UK
Published: Tuesday 11 June 2024
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Responding to the Conservative Party General Election manifesto, BMA council chair Professor Philip Banfield said:

“When it comes to health, this manifesto is full of ideas we have already heard and doctors and healthcare staff will rightly be extremely sceptical about how they will be delivered, given the party’s record over the last 14 years in Government and the state that it has left health services and the health of the nation in. What is not in this manifesto is any mention of valuing the unique skills and expertise of doctors, and how over 15 years worth of doctors’ pay erosion is going to be restored, or the fact that this Government has failed to make any kind of credible offer to junior doctors in England.

​“Waiting lists in England have almost tripled since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, and were rising long before the pandemic. Previous pledges to hire 5,000 more GPs in England instead resulted in the loss of almost 2,000. Four groups of doctors in the NHS have been in dispute with the Government over the last year. Junior doctors and GPs in England remain in dispute with the Government, and SAS doctors are still voting on a pay offer. Nurses rejected theirs. Rishi Sunak is wrong to say he has settled with all but junior doctors.

“Pledges to recruit more doctors and improve access to GP appointments, mental health services or diagnostic checks are likely to fall flat if the Conservatives don’t address the elephant in the room: retaining doctors. This of course means fixing pay and the pay review process – which are completely absent from the manifesto – and making sure barriers to taking on additional work are removed, such as those around punitive pension taxation. In general practice, any promises to free-up capacity will be impossible to keep if a future Conservative government maintains its position of refusing to invest in adequately funding general practice, with a contract in England that prevents surgeries from hiring GPs, leaving the absurd situation where many family doctors can’t find work despite people being desperate for GP appointments.

“We need new hospital buildings, but the progress against the pledge to build 40 new hospitals - made in their last election’s manifesto - has been woeful.

​“Meanwhile, a focus on divisive politics around trans healthcare shows their priorities are still in the wrong place.

​“While it was good to see some long overdue action on smoking and vaping announced in this parliament and committed to within this manifesto, commitments to tackle obesity and other public health threats will be read with caution given the party’s record of foot-dragging and U-turns in this area.

“It would be nice if we could take this manifesto and its pledges on health at face value, but for doctors and anyone with experience of the NHS over the last decade or so, they will need some serious convincing that this is a party that is prepared to finally accept that valuing doctors and care staff is a sound investment in the health of the people we all serve.”

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.

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