NHS is in ‘dire straits’ and must get ‘whatever it needs’ this winter, says BMA

Press release from the BMA. 

Location: England
Published: Thursday 17 September 2020
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Responding to the announcement by Matt Hancock today on further details of winter preparedness, including extra investment for A&E's and the extension of the NHS 111 pilot scheme, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: 

 “Given the precarious position the NHS finds itself in as we approach winter – with the possible risk of a second peak to contend with – it is useful to hear further detail on what steps the Government is taking to prepare for winter.  

“The Government’s allocation of winter funding has to stretch extremely far. At the start of the pandemic, the Chancellor promised to give the NHS ‘whatever it needs’.  With a serious backlog of care, the ongoing considerations of the pandemic, and the extremely worrying latest NHS performance stats revealing just what dire straits our health service is in, he must do just that.

“While extra funding for A&E departments is welcome, there is a disappointing lack of mention for primary and mental health care, which will be just as much at the forefront of the battle this winter. Increasing NHS 111 capacity, while alleviating some of the pressure on emergency care, will undoubtedly divert some of the demand to primary care and other services. Yet, the Government has failed to recognise this and must provide comparable additional resources to address it, not least as practices are already overwhelmed with rapidly rising workloads.

“The NHS 111 pilot scheme has been extended without any update on the results of the initial pilot, or any consultation on the results. We would like these schemes to be a success, but without more transparency and more clinician-led input, it is questionable how successful they can be. We are concerned this could be a waste of precious resources if not carefully implemented. The extension of the scheme should also be accompanied by clear messaging for the public so they know exactly how they should interact with the new system. 

 “We have seen first-hand the devastation of the pandemic on our care homes as the shameful neglect and under-resourcing of adult social care was laid bare. It is absolutely right that the Government increases funding to protect the older, more vulnerable population who will undoubtedly be worried about their future and their health this winter. Now, more than ever, we need to see clarity over the Government’s long-term ambitions for funding social care.”


Notes to editors

The BMA is a 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.

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