Responding to today's King's Speech, Dr Emma Runswick, BMA deputy chair of council, said:
“The Government today showed it has the wrong priorities for the NHS. Instead of presenting ways to support and expand the medical workforce it has chosen to repress it and devalue it.
“We have made very clear our opposition to the harsh anti-strike legislation presented in this King’s Speech and will continue to do our utmost to ensure that the freedom to partake in industrial action is protected for all health workers. The strike action doctors have been forced into this year has all been done while already preserving minimum levels of staffing to ensure patient safety. Any further restrictions will be nothing more than an attack on workers rights on top of what are already the tightest restriction on trade unions in Europe.
“Instead of trying to fight the very experts it needs to fulfil their pledges on waiting lists, the government should be listening to them and working with them. We encourage all doctors to respond to the Government’s consultation on this Bill and tell them just how misguided the current plans are. The fight is by no means over.
“By forging ahead with its workforce plan the Government also commits1 to plans for the General Medical Council to become the professional regulation body for physician associates and anaesthesia associates.
“These plans are shortsighted, ignore the concerns of the medical profession, and will create yet more uncertainty for patients. At a time when there is growing concern among the medical profession and patients about some physician associates exceeding their clinical skills and knowledge, we are deeply concerned that these plans will create further confusion for patients between the roles of doctors and those who do not have medical degree and are not qualified doctors.
“These plans to regulate them through the GMC will confirm doctors’ fears that their rigorous multi-year training is being devalued in favour of a potentially dangerous short-cut. This is not the King’s Speech to fix the workforce crisis.”
Notes to editors
1. The relevant section of the Long Term Workforce Plan, promised to be delivered in today’s King’s Speech, reads
- “Work with partners to ensure new roles are appropriately regulated to ensure they can use their full scope of practice, and are freeing up the time of other clinicians as much as possible - for example, by bringing anaesthesia and physician associates in scope of General Medical Council (GMC) registration by the end of 2024 with the potential to give them prescribing rights in the future.”
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.