Time for Government to ‘get its head out of the sand’: BMA responds to British Social Attitudes Survey

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: UK
Published: Wednesday 29 March 2023
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Responding to the results of the British Social Attitudes Survey1, published today by the Nuffield Trust and King’s Fund, and which finds satisfaction in the NHS at a record low, Professor Philip Banfield, BMA council chair, said:

“The NHS was one of the most respected health services in the world, but these damning findings show how years of underfunding and Government neglect have reduced it to a mere shadow of what it could, and should, be.

“This survey makes one thing clear: patients who use the NHS can see the damage caused by that lack of investment and absence of workforce planning, uniting the public with healthcare staff who have been shouting loudly about these pressures for many years.

“As the King’s Fund itself says, these findings should be a wake-up call for the Government – which continues in denial with its head sinking ever deeper into the sand.

“We have record-low public satisfaction across all parts of the health service, with huge frustrations around long waits for GP and hospital appointments, staffing shortages and underfunding. The public say they want services to be staffed properly, to be able to make a GP appointment more easily, and to see waiting times in A&E and for planned care slashed. And even though staff are trying their absolute hardest – for example GP practices providing far more appointments than they were pre-pandemic despite plummeting GP numbers – improving patients’ experiences relies almost solely on boosting the workforce. And looking at the system as a whole, you cannot reduce waits in secondary care without materially increasing resource in both the ‘front door’ that is general practice and the ‘back door’ that is social care, as well of course, as in hospitals themselves.

“Yet this Government refuses to listen. It instead imposes a contract on GPs that offers no support to practices, it fails to value doctors with meaningful talks about pay, and a long-awaited and much-needed long-term workforce plan is still nowhere to be seen.

“Like doctors, the public still strongly believes in and supports the principle of the NHS, but belief is not enough to keep services afloat.

“In the absence of more active support and retention of staff, and properly resourced services, patients will continue to suffer. Staff can see it. The public can see it. It’s time for the Government to get its head out of the sand, face the public, open its eyes, and act. This sorry state of affairs can be reversed if the will and commitment from Government is forthcoming.”


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.

  1. Please contact the Nuffield Trust for full details.