If there are no doctors, there will be no healthcare: BMA lays out manifesto for next Government

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: UK
Published: Wednesday 5 June 2024
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Without looking after and retaining doctors, the next Government has no hope of improving peoples’ health or of high-quality treatment being readily available, pushing the NHS and the health of the nation into an ever deeper crisis.

The BMA says that the incoming Government must make health its number one priority. In the Association’s own manifesto, ‘Patients need doctors’, the BMA lays out five key areas which each party must commit to:

  • Value the vital role doctors play across all health services and restore their pay.
  • Protect doctors from any further erosion of their professional role and employment rights.
  • Train and provide jobs for the next generation of doctors needed to meet demand.
  • Fund the services needed for the future of the health service.
  • Safeguard the public’s health and wellbeing, prioritising preventative care.

Without addressing all of these areas, the BMA says the UK will continue to lose doctors, peoples’ health declines further, the economy suffers more, and people will find it even harder to get the care they need on time, and from the right expert health professional.

Among the calls in its manifesto, the BMA says real-terms pay cuts must be reversed, and absurd barriers preventing doctors from taking on more work must be removed, including those caused by complex, unfair pension rules, and restrictions in the GP contract that prevent practices in England from using existing funding to hire more GPs.

Meanwhile, the BMA calls for urgent action to halt the recruitment and expansion of medical ‘associate’ roles such as physician associates, that are being used to substitute doctors and devalue medical expertise – confusing patients and putting safety at risk in the process.

A refusal by the country’s leaders to tackle these issues will make it even more difficult for patients to see a doctor when they need one, the BMA says.
BMA chair of council Professor Philip Banfield said:

“We have an understaffed, under-resourced and under-performing health service, an exhausted and underpaid workforce and an increasingly unwell population. The next Government risks the collapse of free-at-the-point-of-need healthcare if it fails to address these issues and reverse the damage caused by years of austerity politics.

“All parties must make the health of the country, and health services, their top priority, so that doctors and healthcare staff can do their jobs safely and properly. Tackling waiting list backlogs, increasing productivity of the NHS and improving patient safety all depend on positive engagement with the medical profession.

“Having enough doctors, with their unique skills and expertise, is at the core of this. In recent years we have seen erosion of the profession: with real-terms pay cut after real-terms pay cut, our professional expertise disregarded, and when we exercise our moral and professional duty to raise safety concerns these are too often run roughshod over by managers or executives who would rather protect the reputation of institutions than protect patients.

“If the next Government continues down this path, refusing to value and protect the medical profession, doctors will continue to leave, and the situation for patients – waiting for years for operations, weeks to see a GP, or days to be treated in A&E – will get far, far worse.

“Patients need doctors. Thankfully we are here to help the next Government guarantee that enough of us will be left to ensure the health of the NHS and the health of the country.”

Ends

Notes to editors

1. Read 'BMA Election Manifesto 2024: Patients need doctors'

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.