Responding to the news that the NHS in England will receive an extra £5.4bn over the next six months, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA chair of council, said:
“This additional money is welcome as a first step to deal with immediate pressures. However the scale of the backlog is gargantuan and unprecedented in the history of the NHS. There are 5.45 million people on the waiting list compared to 4m before the pandemic, with projections suggesting it could reach 13 million. 304,803 patients have been waiting more than a year, a figure which is 280 times larger than it was pre-pandemic. We estimate that between April 2020 and June 2021 there were 3.66 million fewer elective procedures and 28.35 million fewer outpatient attendances. Demands on general practice are at an all-time high.
“It will take years – not months - to clear this backlog, in addition to concerns of new winter pressures ahead. The NHS already had major infrastructure problems before the pandemic, with about 50,000 fewer doctors compared to equivalent EU nations, and we have one of the lowest number of hospital beds per capita in Europe. What the NHS desperately needs from this government is long-term sustained funding to give us the capacity to address the totality of this backlog plus give the NHS a chance to meet ongoing health needs of our nation.
“We have estimated that funding must increase by 4.1% to ensure that the NHS can cope, meaning core health spend must total £174bn by 2023/24.
“At best this announcement allows for a start to what is needed, but it will soon run out. We need to have continued funding and a backlog reduction strategy that spans the years to come.”
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.