Responding to today's PAC report on access to urgent and emergency care, Prof Phil Banfield, BMA chair of council, said:
“As winter approaches the inevitable worsening crisis in NHS emergency care should be concentrating minds in Government. This report shows a depressing trend of deteriorating performance over the last decade, with the targets for A&E waits not having been met since 2015. Behind this headline is the all-too-familiar fact that the number of patients presenting to the hospital front door is climbing relentlessly and that transferring patients to wards and discharging patients at the other end of the system back home or into appropriate care has also become increasingly difficult. It is good to see the PAC acknowledging the impact of the Covid pandemic on the workforce as the BMA has repeatedly pointed out: doctors suffering from the aftereffects of the pandemic including long Covid are leading to exceptionally high levels of physical and mental ill health.
“The PAC is right to doubt how far NHSE can achieve its optimistic assumptions about how many staff can be recruited and retained. We are currently in the middle of the most profound pay dispute in the history of the health service, and a horribly overstretched workforce is being asked to do more with less, with a projected shortfall of up to 360,000 staff by 2036 in NHS England. Against such a backdrop, it is hard to see how the health service is going to recruit and retain the vast number of doctors required to make up shortfalls in their numbers. We join the PAC in its concern over the lack of long-term funding being set out to support the new Long Term Workforce Plan.
“While emergency care will continue to be covered during any further strike action, it is still a worrying sign that the Government is heading into winter with unresolved industrial disputes involving the very doctors it is relying on to fix this crisis. Only a properly valued and fully staffed NHS is going to be able to make meaningful improvements to delayed discharges and unacceptable waiting times this report is rightly raising the alarm on”.
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.