NHS ‘bureaucracy spending’ figures will be ‘galling’ for frontline healthcare staff, says BMA

Press release from the BMA

Location: England
Last reviewed: 16 May 2022
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Responding to today’s Daily Telegraph front page, based on Policy Exchange’s latest report, highlighting increased spending on NHS bureaucracy and management, BMA Council deputy chair Dr David Wrigley said:

“At a time when we have a severely depleted and exhausted health and care workforce who have spent the last two years battling a pandemic only to now face another enormous challenge of tackling the record backlog in care left in its wake, many will feel frustrated that such a huge amount of money is being spent on bureaucracy and backroom functions, rather than reaching the front line.

“While any organisation the size of NHS England requires high-quality, accountable management, especially during a pandemic, this must provide value for money for the taxpayer and crucially must not be at the expense of funding for services and frontline staff.

“These figures will therefore be particularly galling to our colleagues as the Government continues to refuse to prioritise the very people who keep health and care services running: the doctors, nurses and other health and care professionals looking after people in our hospitals and GP practices each day.

“The report notes a doubling in NHS England staff in two years - at the same time as nursing numbers only increased by seven per cent. The picture is no better for doctors, with the number of full-time equivalent hospital doctors in England increasing by just 9% between January 2020 and January 20221, while we have actually lost the equivalent of 247 full-time, fully-qualified GPs over a similar period – a fall of almost 1%2 – continuing a worrying trend that has long pre-dated the pandemic.

“The Government says it won’t offer doctors a fair pay rise that both reflects the spiralling cost of living and corrects years of pay erosion, because it can’t afford to do so. Neither will ministers scrap damaging pension rules that drive senior doctors away from the health service early.

“But they seemingly have enough money to double what they’re spending on management and red tape.

“If the Government is serious about looking after the public’s health needs, it needs to urgently reassess its priorities, with recruiting and retaining vital healthcare staff at the top of its list.”


Notes to editors

  1. Source: NHS Workforce Statistics. In January 2020, there were 117,230 NHS hospital and community health service doctors (full-time equivalent). In January 2022, there were 128,016: a rise of 10,786, or 9.2%.
  2. Source: General Practice Workforce. In March 2020, there were 28,016 FTE fully-quaified GPs in England. In March 2022, this figure was 27,769: a fall of 247, or 0.9%.

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.