Commenting on the Royal College of Emergency Medicine report Crowding and its Consequences, Dr Denise Langhor, emergency medicine lead at the BMA, and Dr Vishal Sharma, chair of the consultants committee, said:
“These figures are tragic and behind each number is a grieving family and a lost member of a community. The NHS is in crisis and its perilous state has been caused by years of under-investment in doctors and the health service only made worse by the pandemic. These devastating figures in the report are not the fault of emergency departments or their staff who are regularly going above and beyond to provide the best possible care for their patients. They are a result of a severe lack of capacity across health and social care coupled with a lack of doctors and other vital staff. The doctors we do have are exhausted and are being left with little option but to reduce their hours or take early retirement because of punitive pensions taxation rules. We can’t go on like this.
“We call on the Government to put together a workable plan to tackle these problems starting urgently with how we are to retain our workforce. We have an immediate problem because we just don’t have the required 13 years to wait for new consultants to be trained, so the focus must be on keeping highly-skilled and experienced consultants in their jobs so that as many patients as possible can access the care they need. The absurd and damaging pensions taxation issues that force senior doctors to reduce their hours or even retire early must be urgently addressed – something the Chancellor failed to do last month in the Spending Review – plus as a priority, there needs to be action on reducing the decade of real-terms pay cuts that have been inflicted on them. We must look after our existing workforce better. After nearly two years of working through a pandemic, our members have told us time and time again that they are under pressure like never before and are running on empty. Their health and wellbeing is paramount.
“In the longer term we need the Government to be held accountable for ensuring safe staffing in the NHS – laying out how many staff we need and how it plans to meet this. The BMA, alongside our colleagues in the Royal Colleges, influential think tanks and charities, is therefore supporting an Amendment to the Health and Care Bill in England, being tabled by Jeremy Hunt for Report Stage, that places a duty on the Secretary of State to publish regular independently verified assessments of the workforce numbers needed now and in the future to meet the growing needs of the population.
“We have no time to waste because patients' lives depend on us.”
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.