Government must make ‘long-overdue aspirations’ for NHS workforce a ‘reality’, says BMA

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA.

Location: England
Published: Thursday 30 July 2020

Responding to the publication of the NHS People Plan 2020/211 announced by the health secretary today, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said:

“The NHS People Plan comes at a time when the NHS is possibly in the most precarious state it has ever been -  in the midst of a pandemic - which has served as a stark reminder of just how much we depend on the workforce for our NHS to survive and succeed.

“The People Plan highlights several areas for improvement that the BMA has been calling for – a focus on wellbeing, research and education, equality and diversity and flexible working – and this is encouraging to see. Initiatives such as the appointment of wellbeing guardians, boosting the mental health workforce, tackling violence against staff, and improving occupational health standards will make an important difference to the lives of staff and the development of a more open and inclusive culture.

“What is important now is delivering these plans in a timely manner so that these long-overdue aspirations become a reality. The BMA will continue to work with Government to bring about real change for the better in these areas.  

“We are significantly short of doctors2 compared with our EU neighbours3, and also without equivalent levels of hospital beds and community facilities. This has resulted in doctors being exhausted and pressured to work in an environment lacking adequate infrastructure with almost a third of doctors telling us they are experiencing emotional distress or mental health issues that have become worse during the pandemic. We therefore, need greater clarity on the scale of plans to expand the workforce to ensure that this goes far enough to address the historic levels of understaffing in the health service. We also need to see more detail on how the Government intends to retain staff.

“It is also crucial that the plan factors in the wider demand now being placed on the NHS, and therefore, the workforce, with a growing backlog of millions of non-covid patients who have not received care during the pandemic.

“Delivering this will require new resources; it is vital that the Government matches these ambitions with a transparent long-term costed funding plan that delivers these long-overdue changes.”


Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union and professional association 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.

  1. NHS People Plan 2020/21
  2. There were at least 8,338 FTE (full-time equivalent) secondary care medical vacancies in England at the end of March 2020 – 6.3% of all the reported NHS staff vacancies. FTE qualified GPs working in the NHS reduced by 334 between January to March 2020 in Englan
  3. OECD data on European doctors.

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