Responding to the report by the Health and Social Care Committee outlining recommendations for delivering core NHS and care services during the pandemic and beyond, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said:
“With the pandemic taking an unprecedented toll on the delivery of normal care to the detriment of many patients across the country, this report indicates the need for a credible plan to dig us out of the trenches.
“As the BMA has highlighted time and time again, the NHS is now facing a triple whammy – the mounting risk of a second spike, winter pressures and the need to address the huge backlog of non-Covid care which has accumulated over the last six months. We now need a full and comprehensive plan, backed by appropriate funding, to ensure that we can provide much-needed care to the millions of patients who were unable to access treatment during the pandemic, whilst dealing with a surge in Covid cases as we head into the winter.
“Clearing the backlog must not come at the cost of pushing an already overworked and stressed NHS workforce to their limit once more and so the recognition of improving wellbeing among staff must be met with swift action. As this report rightly highlights, there is a need for further action beyond the NHS People Plan to clearly outline recruitment objectives and ensure there will be enough staff to deliver care in the future.
“Testing of healthcare workers contributes to our overall understanding of the spread of the virus and helps to protect patient and community through the prevention of transmission. However, we still need to see more robust evidence on the frequency and under what circumstances the testing of all NHS staff should take place.
“The Committee is absolutely right to call on the Government and NHS leaders to set out a detailed strategy to tackle racism and discrimination within the NHS. BMA research shows that BAME doctors are disproportionately more likely to suffer from bullying, harassment and undermining and to fear being blamed for systemic errors. It is also well-evidenced that ethnic minority doctors do not have equal access to career progression opportunities and that there is a considerable ethnicity pay gap in the NHS - this quite simply must end.
“Investing in community diagnostic services and improved digital infrastructure are two urgent steps the Government can take to support doctors at the frontline, who are doing everything they can to ensure patients get the care they need.
“Alongside this, as part of the implementation of its PPE strategy, the Government must be transparent about how it has calculated expected levels of demand needed and ensure adequate quantities of appropriate PPE are available on the ground as we resume normal care. We cannot allow for a repeat of the dangerous situation that many health care workers faced at the start of this pandemic when PPE shortages put lives at risk.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a 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.