New health secretary must listen to the frontline and look to strengthen the NHS, says BMA

by BMA Media Team

BMA Press release

Location: England
Last reviewed: 5 July 2021

In response to the Royal College of Physicians’ (RCP) latest survey of its members Dr Vishal Sharma, chair elect of BMA consultants committee, said: 

“It should surprise no one that these findings come on the back of Government plans for a meagre 1% pay offer and a real term cut in pension entitlement, which is driving doctors out of the profession. We welcome yet another medical organisation calling for the new health secretary, Sajid Javid, to think carefully about how to strengthen the health service, which has taken the full force of the pandemic. We’d urge Mr Javid to listen to the voices representing the frontline. It’s clear that NHS staff are on their last legs and in desperate need of adequate support and resources.  

“In the BMA’s call to Government last week, the Association said that the suggestion of a 1% pay award, effectively a pay-cut, has left consultants feeling angry and undervalued. A bitter blow that comes on top of an already punishing pension taxation which the Chancellor is rumoured to be considering making even more punitive. Now the RCP have said that NHS staff would like to achieve a healthy work-life balance but, despite the majority of Trusts being keen to accommodate this, many staff expect to experience difficulty here because there simply are not enough medical staff to cope with the workload. This is unacceptable but not surprising when we consider that the UK has 20% fewer doctors that the rest of Europe.

“With this in mind, it is also crucial that the Government looks to retain the NHS workforce. A recent BMA survey found that 72% of doctors said they would retire early and a 61% they would reduce the hours they worked because of the punitive pension taxation system. The Government can no longer ignore this. It now risks losing any remaining goodwill unless it appropriately recognises the efforts of the NHS workforce over the last 18 months; starts to restore their loss in pay; addresses pension issues by implementing a tax unregistered scheme; and looks to increase the workforce as a matter of urgency.”

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.