Responding to the Prime Minister’s five promises, one of which pledges to cut NHS waiting times, Professor Philip Banfield, BMA chair of council, said
“The Prime Minister today showed a baffling lack of urgency in addressing a crisis that the whole country can see with their own eyes has brought the NHS to its knees. He refuses to even admit there is a crisis. He mentioned the upcoming workforce strategy sometime “early this year” as if it is something we can afford to wait for. We must be clear that retaining and growing the workforce, as soon as we possibly can, is our way out of this mess.
“If we can retain the exhausted staff we have and recruit to the thousands of vacancies by paying staff the wages they deserve, we’ll be able to start making headway on the need for care from both hospitals and GP practices. We’ll be able to create a strong social care system to help move people out of hospital and into the community. We’ll be able to give the care that our patients need and deserve.
“Most pressingly, having enough staff means we’ll be able to treat those who are presenting at A&E. Our members are telling us that the NHS is in the worst state it’s ever been; patients are being treated in cupboards, hospitals are running out of oxygen cannisters, and staff, rushed off their feet, are breaking down in tears mid-shift. Although Mr Sunak said he is aware of the acute pressures facing emergency departments, there was absolutely no attempt to offer any immediate support, or to encourage those currently working in the NHS to return for another shift.
“The NHS is collapsing before our eyes, but today’s speech lacked the detail staff needed to know that they haven’t been abandoned, and that the health service will be given what it needs to survive. Mr Sunak said he wants to be held accountable, and we are happy to oblige. He will be held accountable, as this crisis inevitably worsens and more staff and patients suffer as a result.”
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.