'Incomprehensible' that the Autumn Statement offers no support for the NHS, says BMA

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: England
Published: Wednesday 22 November 2023

Responding to today's Autumn Statement, Professor Philip Banfield, BMA council chair, said: “The Chancellor has forgotten the Prime Minister’s promise to cut NHS waiting lists as one of the Government’s five priorities for the year.

“At a time when the Government is not only failing to fulfil this pledge and reduce them, but waiting lists in fact continue to grow to record highs each month – even when there are no doctors’ strikes – it’s incomprehensible that the Chancellor is not offering any support for the NHS in today’s statement.

“On the eve of an incredibly difficult winter, and with three groups of doctors in England still in dispute with the Government over pay, the complete absence of any commitments to health is astonishing.

“There’s nothing to support the NHS with the squeeze to budgets brought on by inflation, nor anything to reverse a decade of public health cuts. On the one hand Mr Hunt talks about productivity, but on the other the Government refuses to provide the investment in buildings and equipment needed for staff to have the tools they need to do their jobs properly in modern and safe workspaces.

“It’s no good for the Chancellor to repeat plans to train more doctors, when nowhere near enough is being done to retain the ones we have. He continues to peddle the myth that paying public sector staff properly would increase inflation – something that has been roundly rejected by economists.

“As taxpayers - and for GP partners, self-employed business owners - doctors will be among those welcoming cuts in national insurance, of course.

“But overall today is further evidence of the Government deprioritising health.

“As a former Secretary of State for Health, we’d have hoped the Chancellor would appreciate the link between a healthy society and a healthy economy. Unfortunately, today’s statement suggests that this is not the case.”

ENDS

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.