Responding to the Government’s announcement of over £250m for 900 extra beds this winter Professor Philip Banfield, BMA council chair, said: “Funding for extra beds is absolutely necessary, the NHS badly needs them, but this is too little too late and misses the fundamental observation that we need staff to look after the patients in them.
“What has happened to the 5,000 beds promised by the Government or the 10,000 that the Royal College of Emergency Medicine have suggested are needed? Treating more patients without the corresponding additional doctors, nurses and colleagues will stretch existing staff even thinner in an already threadbare service and patients will continue to wait too long to be seen. We still aren’t getting patients out of hospital to home or social care in anything like the numbers to clear the current log jams, let alone with winter looming.
“It’s disingenuous for the Government to say it is preparing the NHS for winter when the winter pressures are year round in many places. It continues to insult and devalue doctors by once again cutting their pay in real terms – not only leading them to strike but driving them away from the health service. In order to adequately staff any new beds, the NHS needs to keep the workforce it already has.
“There is nothing here for other areas of the health and care service, including general practices facing massive challenges that worsen over winter, and which is so vital at keeping people well and away from hospital. Likewise for social care.
“To hear that this money, announced in August, will not be available before January is a nonsense. The pressure on services will have increased months before that so rather than wait until January, let clinicians be the ones who decide when it is needed and where.”
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.