BMA Scotland warns of urgency for national conversation on NHS ahead of Scottish Government debate

by BMA Scotland media team

Press release from BMA Scotland 

Location: Scotland
Published: Monday 3 June 2024
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Speaking ahead of the Scottish Government debate on ‘A Vision for Health and Social Care in Scotland’, which is due to take place tomorrow (Tuesday 4 June), Dr Iain Kennedy, chair of BMA Scottish Council, said:

“We welcome this debate as a sign of progress towards the urgent discussion which needs to take place on the future of health and social care services.

“BMA Scotland has long been calling for an honest, open and transparent national conversation on how to tackle problems in the health service in the long-term and the reforms needed to make it sustainable for generations to come.

“We look forward to the Cabinet Secretary setting out his plans for how this will be achieved.

“But there is also an obligation on MSPs from all parties to engage positively with these discussions – we are at a crunch point with the future of the NHS and it must not be treated as a political football, with reforms constrained to election cycles.

"After a period of engagement and careful consideration about what we want and expect from our health and social care services, then consensus is needed about how we take forward those reforms. What must then follow is a period of stability.

“Figures published last week showing NHS waiting lists in Scotland have reached a record high underline just how urgent the situation is.

“Patients are facing unacceptably long waiting times and a two-tier system of healthcare is rapidly developing where only those who can afford it are able to access timely treatment. This is unacceptable and threatens the founding principles of our NHS.

“Indeed, the starting point for any discussion must be that our health service should remain free at the point of need, but we need to examine how this can be achieved for both now and the future.

“A national conversation must result in real tangible change and reform and not just end up as a tick box exercise, or the basis for another policy document that gathers dust on a shelf.

“It also cannot be a long drawn out process, disrupted by electoral cycles, or held up by debates around whether money from Westminster is or will be forthcoming.

"Of course we won’t agree on everything, and healthy debate is to be welcomed. But I cannot say clearly enough that we need to all work together to find the urgent solutions required – and place to one side any divisive politics that may blow us off course.

“At this point, while the NHS in Scotland is struggling desperately to be financially sustainable – it equally urgently requires a vision for the future and an immediate plan for action on how this will be achieved."

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.  

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