Responding to today’s performance statistics from NHS England, showing that the number of people waiting for elective care in England has risen to 7.6 million, Professor Philip Banfield, BMA council chair, said:
“Another month passes, and another needless record that the Government should be ashamed of.
“While the Prime Minister and his colleagues like to call this the ‘Covid backlog’ and furthermore to blame striking healthcare staff, the Government was presiding over this problem long before any industrial action; waiting lists were steadily getting worse for the decade leading up to the pandemic arriving.
“In fact, it is these waiting lists - and doctors being unable to do their jobs because of underinvestment, workforce shortages and rota gaps - that lie behind the strikes they’re being forced to take now.
“The Government says it’s a priority to bring down waiting lists, but it cannot do this without recruiting and retaining staff who we are losing to jobs abroad or outside the NHS because of persistent real-terms cuts to their pay over the last 15 years.
“This is a problem of the Government’s making; it cannot be fixed without doctors.
“Rather than blaming them – a deliberate case of obfuscation – the Prime Minister could put an end to strikes by getting around the negotiating table, putting forward a credible offer and allowing doctors to be back where they want to be: not on picket lines but caring for patients.”
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.