'Truly disappointing', says BMA following MPs voting against transparency over workforce numbers

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA.

Location: England
Last reviewed: 30 March 2022

Responding to the decision by MPs today1 not to vote in support of upholding Lords’ amendment 292 to the Health and Care Bill, which would have made it a legal requirement for the Secretary of State to publish regular, independently verified assessments of the workforce numbers needed, now and in the future, BMA council deputy chair Dr David Wrigley said:

“It is truly disappointing that, despite consistent pleas from across the healthcare profession about the precarious state of the NHS workforce, including the former chief executive of the NHS, the former chair of NHS Improvement who led the NHS’ People Plan, and former secretary of state for health and social care, the Government has decided to reject Lords’ amendment 29 that would have delivered much-needed greater transparency over workforce numbers.

“Having a collective national picture of the health and care staff numbers needed now and into the future to meet demand is crucial for underpinning an effective long-term workforce strategy, which has been so desperately needed in the NHS. Without which we simply do not have the necessary foundations to take long-term strategic decisions about funding, regional and speciality shortages and skills mix. The Government’s decision to vote this down is a huge, missed opportunity and means we still won’t know how many healthcare staff the country needs – despite being all too clear that staff and services are dangerously overstretched.

Responding to the decision by MPs today not to vote3 in support of upholding Lords’ amendment 302 which would have removed Secretary of State powers to intervene in local service reconfigurations, BMA council deputy chair Dr David Wrigley said:

“Any decision on service configurations in the NHS should be focused on clinical need and delivering quality patient care, not politics, so it is really disappointing that the Government has chosen not to back the Lords Amendment to remove the Secretary of State’s power to intervene in such decisions.

“With the NHS facing the largest ever backlog of care in its history and with a severe workforce crisis to contend with, we cannot afford to let political, rather than clinical priorities succeed as undue political influence in NHS decision making can undermine the ability to ensure effective long-term planning. Achieving the best outcome for patients must always be the deciding factor.”


Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union and professional association 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. MPs voted to reject Lords amendment 29 – 249 votes to 167
2. Lords amendments to the Health and Care Bill
3. MPs voted to reject Lords amendment 30 - 265 votes to 156