BMA Scotland: Now is the time to demonstrate NHS staff are valued

by BMA Scotland

Press release from BMA Scotland

Published: Wednesday 7 April 2021

This election and the forming of a new Government must be the time that politicians transform warm words and rounds of applause into action and really demonstrate to NHS staff they are valued, BMA Scotland Chair Lewis Morrison said today.

Dr Morrison was speaking as BMA Scotland’s published its manifesto ahead of the Scottish elections.

Key points include a call to put party politics aside and unite to depoliticise the debate around the NHS. This should include a national conversation on the future of the NHS, what it should provide and how it should be funded. This conversation needs to be outside the realms of the party-political sphere, including all NHS stakeholders, politicians and – most importantly – the public.

The document also sets out a range of measures to help improve the working lives of doctors and help them feel valued once again. The BMA is clear this must be a priority as a survey conducted among members prior to the development of the manifesto found:

  • 65% of doctors who responded did not feel that politicians valued doctors in Scotland
  • 46% felt that the Scottish Government wasn’t committed to involving the medical profession in its decisions about the future of the NHS
  • 79% didn’t have a clear understanding of the long-term visions for the future of the NHS.

BMA Scotland chair Dr Lewis Morrison said: “Throughout the pandemic we have heard on an almost daily basis tributes paid to staff working in the NHS on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19. The images of MSPs joining in with weekly claps were a regular feature of a Thursday night as we struggled through the first wave.

“We have now reached the time to prove to doctors and all other NHS workers that those weren’t just hollow gestures or empty words. Because right now, doctors’ views of those who run our health service are at a very low ebb.

“The results of our survey made for stark reading. It’s likely this is built on years of warm words, but little real action or honesty from all parties about the NHS, what we ask of it, and how we treat the people who work in it. And let me be clear – the people who work in our NHS, are our NHS.

“As we emerge from this pandemic, we are now presented with a real chance to make a change – and show that the weekly claps and fulsome tributes really did mean something. That the incredible commitment and selfless dedication of doctors over the last year may lead to something better in the future: for them and the people they care for. This is finally our chance to wipe the slate clean – it’s now or more than likely never.

“That is the basis on which we present this manifesto: of course, we don’t have all the answers, but we do have a clear premise on which we hope all parties can approach the NHS in Scotland during the next parliament.

“If Scotland is truly to get to grips with making the NHS sustainable, then now is the time for a national conversation about its future: what it should provide and how it should be funded. We have to be honest about the challenges, realistic about our needs and wants, and consider how much, as a nation, we are prepared to invest in our health and care services. We genuinely need to look after healthcare staff better, with a focus on patient outcomes instead of an obsession with blanket and arbitrary targets. We need to ensure that staff work in environments in which they feel safe and secure – no one should go to work feeling anxious, worried, or to be bullied.

“Over the last year, I have never been prouder to be a doctor and part of the team that is NHS Scotland. We have pulled together, putting patients at the heart of all we do – not the demands of the system we work in. Looking forward, it is vital that we don’t lose that momentum, and keep patient and staff wellbeing at the centre of all decisions that we make. We owe it to the people of Scotland to make sure our health service is the best it can be – but importantly we also owe it to the many thousands who work in it.”

Notes to editors

BMA Scotland surveyed 911 doctors during November 2020. The full results have been used to inform our manifesto and are included throughout the document.

Read the manifesto in full.

A shorter pocket version of the manifesto is also available to read.