Responding to the Scottish Government’s winter preparedness plan, chair of BMA Scotland, Dr Iain Kennedy, said: “While it is good to see a plan, we’ll need to spend some more time looking at it in detail – but on first glance the Scottish government does appear to be focusing on the right areas such as recruitment and retention, social care, and hospital at home. However, it is really just tinkering around the edges and lacks the real substance and understanding – and crucially proper investment – that we need to improve the current situation our NHS is in. And it is worth noting there was no mention of investment in the medical workforce at all, despite GP and secondary care doctor vacancies being worryingly high.
“The whole system approach as outlined in the plan is welcome, acknowledging that the problems are not confined to simply one area of our NHS and recognising that there are issues across the entire system – but this cannot be just about winter. We are in a year-round crisis with our NHS and workforce planning is abysmal. We simply do not have the staff – be that doctors, nurses or allied health professionals – to cope with the rising levels of demand and we are heading into what I expect will be our worst winter ever. It’s a bleak picture but we cannot sugarcoat it or we will simply lurch from winter crisis to winter crisis until the system finally breaks.
“I cannot be clearer when I say that a national conversation on the future of Scotland’s NHS is desperately needed – an open, honest and transparent cross-party discussion that also involves the profession and the public is needed now more than ever. Investment in the system must be improved, investment in staff is crucial. Available beds in our hospitals are only as valuable as the doctors and nurses who available to staff them – without the workforce, the NHS is nothing.”
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.