New Health Secretary has a tough but not impossible task ahead of him, says BMA

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: UK
Published: Wednesday 6 July 2022
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Responding to the appointment of Steve Barclay as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Professor Philip Banfield, BMA Council Chair, said:

“This is a critical juncture for the NHS, patients, health and care staff, and the health of the UK.

“We have a long under-resourced health service dealing with a record backlog of treatment, rising Covid cases and significant staff shortages. Doctors and their colleagues feel demoralised, devalued and unable to provide the level of care that people need. This is against the backdrop of a cost-of-living crisis that’s impacting already worsening public health and widening health inequalities

“Together with the Chancellor, the new Secretary of State must make it a priority to put the health service, social care and public health services back on a sustainable footing, providing the investment needed and putting forward a credible plan to both recruit enough staff and most importantly retain those who continue to go above and beyond every day for patients and their communities.

“Crucially, this means reversing more than a decades’ worth of pay cuts for doctors, some of whom have seen their take-home pay decline by almost a third since 2008, and fixing the pension tax trap that is driving senior doctors out of the profession.

“The Government’s response to the recommendations from the DDRB1 – expected imminently – will be a defining moment for both the Health Secretary and Chancellor. If the Government chooses another sub-inflationary outcome with no plan to address the long-term decline in doctors’ pay, it will set them on a collision course with the profession.

“Meanwhile, as Covid cases and hospitalisations begin to rise once again, health workers must not be left unprotected as we’ve seen so often during the pandemic, and we need guarantees around appropriate PPE for staff and a reversal of this week’s inexplicable decision to remove Covid sick pay.

“The Government has an opportunity to demonstrate its support and commitment to doctors and their colleagues. These ministers have a tough but not impossible task ahead of them. Ultimately, it’s a choice between listening to frontline staff and patients, or facing the dire health consequences if they are ignored. We look forward to meeting with them both.”

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.

  1. The Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) makes an annual recommendation to Government on NHS doctors’ pay.