BMA says spending review must resource workforce and wellbeing, in letter to Chancellor in advance of the Spring Statement

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA.

Location: England
Last reviewed: 18 March 2022

The BMA has written to the Government setting out its demands on what must be key health spending priorities in next week’s Spring Statement.

In the letter to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak, BMA Council Chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul highlights that workforce retention and growth is pivotal to the ability of the NHS to tackle the increased demand and pressure post-Covid and must be prioritised.

To retain and grow our vital healthcare workforce, the letter calls for:

• The development of a long-term, publicly available, fully funded workforce plan
• A £1bn welfare and wellbeing fund for staff
• An enhanced remuneration package including an above inflationary pay award and a solution for punitive pension tax rules
• The expansion of medical school places by up to 11,000 medical graduates per annum on average over the next three years (£2.7bn per year by 2024/25).

Wider health spending asks include:

• Keep free COVID testing for NHS staff and members of the public who have contact with the clinically vulnerable
• Investment to improve and modernise NHS estates, including GP practice premises.
• A further £5-7bn to manage the backlog of non-Covid care, with 10% elective recovery funding allocated to primary care.
• Investment in mental health to ensure true parity of esteem with physical health
• Increased funding for public health to address health inequalities
• A priority on health prevention to minimise pressure on the health system and reverse the worrying trends in population health

Dr Nagpaul said:

“Recent funding announcements for healthcare are a step in the right direction but unfortunately do not go far enough due to historic and long-term underfunding. We have a crisis in our NHS which needs addressing immediately – namely, retaining and growing our healthcare workforce.

“We are continuing to call for the development of a long-term, fully-funded workforce plan to address the chronic workforce shortages across the medical profession which have existed for many years. Our estimate is that we have a shortage of around 46,300 doctors in England, while a combination of factors such as burnout and punitive pension taxation rules have led to significant numbers of medical professionals considering leaving the profession or reducing their hours.

“The NHS needs to address rising burnout and exhaustion so we’re asking for the Government to commit to a £1bn welfare and wellbeing fund, an above inflationary pay award, a solution for the punitive pension taxation, and the expansion of medical school places by up to 11,000 medical graduates per year over the next three years. Without this, we risk a catastrophic exodus of healthcare professionals.”

“We are deeply concerned that Covid-19 testing for healthcare staff should remain a priority. Already, we are seeing increasing numbers of infections so we urge the Government to allocate ring-fenced funding for this. We’re also asking for hospitals and NHS estates to be modernised, expanded and improved to cope with increased demand and to slow the spread of Covid and other infectious diseases.”

Ends

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.

1. BMA full submission to the Chancellor of the Exchequer