BMA responds to open letter from the Shelford Group

by BMA media office

BMA Press release

Location: UK
Published: Friday 15 September 2023

In response to the Shelford CEOs and Chairs’ letter on industrial action Professor Phil Banfield, chair of BMA Council said:

“We are grateful for this letter being made public. The efforts by the BMA to try to get the Government back to the negotiating table have not faltered once and we remain as keen as ever ‘to find a path to resolution,’ as the authors of the letter ask for. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that the strikes, even those planned for next week, let alone those scheduled for October, could be called off if the Prime Minister or the Health Secretary, comes back to the table and we negotiate a credible offer that will bring an end to the dispute.

“We have shared goals in wanting to reduce waiting times, but doctors are fed up with propping up deficiencies in funding and capacity that the NHS in all four nations are experiencing with operations and appointments cancelled on non-strike days for want of doctors, beds or theatre time. We are seeing the disastrous toll of 10 years of austerity; the clinical harm from delayed admissions and prolonged stays in emergency departments is happening everyday and doctors are saying that enough is enough.

“We are firmly on the same page with NHS leaders that bringing an end to disrupted patient care is a number one priority. It’s more than a shame, it’s a national scandal that the Prime Minster doesn’t seem to be even in the same chapter, never mind the same page. Mr Sunak needs to start listening to patients – and those who care for them. This is not about a pay rise, but reversing 15 years of decline in real terms pay to value doctors for their expertise, leadership and ability to innovate and get the job done.  

“Perhaps if the Prime Minister could give more of his attention to working with us to agree a settlement and a little less to falsely blaming doctors for 10 years of rising waiting lists, industrial action could stop. Then perhaps the NHS might, just might, make it across the winter. But without a significant shift in commitment from politicians, ending the strikes is no guarantee that waiting lists will fall, if beds for routine care are still needed for emergencies as they have been every winter of this Government.”

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.