Health Secretary must match her words with action, without delay, and prove she truly values doctors, says BMA

by BMA media team

BMA press release

Location: England
Published: Sunday 3 December 2023
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Responding to comments made in an interview this morning with the Health Secretary Victoria Atkins, on BBC One’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, where she claimed that ending industrial action with doctors in England will help avert a winter crisis and reduce waiting lists, BMA Chair of Council Professor Phil Banfield said:

“It is encouraging to hear the Health Secretary stating that preventing another winter crisis in the NHS is her number one priority but with waiting lists that have increased year on year, even before the pandemic, for the Prime Minster to meet his waiting list targets, he needs to not only immediately end the ongoing industrial action with doctors, but invest urgently in restoring the NHS to be fit for purpose.

“No doctor wants to strike – we want to be treating patients – but years of devaluing our professional expertise with rising demand and dwindling resources is driving too many colleagues to leave for brighter futures abroad.

“I will take Victoria Atkins as I find her; she says she values doctors, so now it is time to prove that. This Government has had over a year’s notice from the BMA that doctors have to stand up for their future and the health of this country. There has been plenty of time over the last 14 months to put a credible pay offer on the table for junior doctors in England. Time is almost up – there cannot be any more delays. 

“It is also crucial that as part of the offer to consultants, the Government fully commits to and follows through the need to reform the pay review body and return it to its independent stature, so consultants’ future pay uplifts are set without undue Government interference and pressure. 

“If Ms Atkins is to do what is required, she will provide junior doctors with a credible offer without further delay. Then we can all work to rebuild a health service that is fit for purpose and for patients.”     

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.