Responding to the Government announcement of £3bn funding for the NHS in England this winter, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said:
“The BMA has been clear that the Government needs to urgently boost NHS funding ahead of winter, in order to address the huge backlog in non-Covid care and to prepare for a potentially disastrous second wave of Covid-19 – something which was absent from the Chancellor’s statement.
“However, it’s vital that we’re given an understanding of how exactly this announced money will be used – and whether it is enough – to boost capacity both for a potential second wave, but also to meet the needs of millions of patients who have had care delayed during the pandemic.
“The BMA recently estimated that up to 1.5 million fewer operations and treatments and around 2.5 million fewer outpatient appointments took place over the last three months compared to the average in the past two years.
“We need a coherent strategy of how this backlog will be managed, as well as drawing on the lessons learned from the first peak. And while shoring up physical capacity is one aspect, there needs to be staff to keep services – both Covid and non-Covid – running, given that doctors and healthcare staff are exhausted and burnt out from dealing with the unprecedented demands of the last few months.
“The Government talks of winter planning, but we need transparency on this, and how far this money can stretch in tackling a modelled worst-case forecast – including a second peak, additional non-Covid demand and a possible flu outbreak.
“Crucially, the Government must make prevention a priority and take every necessary step to try and avoid a national second spike all together. This means providing unambiguous messages to the public and ensuring that they adhere to physical distancing rules and also wear face coverings in all situations where they cannot – not just in shops and on public transport.”
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.