BMA responds to Labour plans to cut NHS backlog

Press release from the BMA

Location: UK
Published: Wednesday 29 May 2024
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Responding to plans announced by the Labour Party to reduce NHS waiting times should they win the General Election, Professor Philip Banfield, BMA council chair, said:

“It’s a laudable aspiration for Labour to commit to bringing waiting times down, but they will need to do more to support the workforce to make this a reality.

“Investment is welcome, but it’s unclear how far £1.3bn will stretch given the scale of the task. It will take more than a few new scanners to deliver this promise, and much more engagement with, and recognition of, staff who are leaving the NHS due to poor pay, conditions and exhaustion.

“‘Spare capacity’ – either in the private sector or at evenings and weekends – relies on the same doctors already working in our NHS 24/7. Expecting them to spread themselves even more thinly won’t cut it now that goodwill has been so roundly eroded over the last few years.

“Importantly, Labour doesn’t say what it plans to do about senior doctors being prevented from taking on extra NHS shifts due to persistently punitive and complex pension taxation rules. And there’s still no assurance that doctors wouldn’t be punished if a Labour government re-instates the pension lifetime allowance – risking an exodus of our most senior clinicians who are so critical to reducing waiting lists.

“The elephant in the room remains pay for the expertise of doctors needed to clear these waiting lists. Just as Labour state they cleared waiting lists before, this was a time when doctors were properly valued for the work they did. Without restoring this pay – and most urgently resolving the dispute with junior doctors – doctors will continue to leave and any promises to solve the backlog will fall at the first hurdle.”


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.