Responding to reports in The Times that the Treasury is lobbying for the removal of all staffing numbers from the NHS workforce plan, expected to be published soon, Professor Philip Banfield, BMA council chair, said:
"The BMA has repeatedly pushed for a NHS and care workforce plan that is independent, fully-funded and crucially includes numbers of how many doctors, nurses and other staff we actually need now and in the future. This was a call not only backed by more than 100 expert health organisations, but one explicitly supported by the now-Chancellor, who even tried to force the previous government to establish this in law. If he were to backtrack on this now that he holds the purse strings, it would be a complete personal betrayal of all NHS and care staff.
"A plan for NHS staffing without numbers is no plan at all.
"We have more than 120,000 vacancies in England’s hospitals alone. We have lost the equivalent of more than 2,000 GPs since 2015. Junior doctors are leaving for better paid jobs abroad and consultants are retiring early over pay erosion and punitive pension rules. This is all as patients face excruciatingly long waits for care, if they can get it at all. The Government needs to get a grip on NHS staffing to avert a complete collapse of the health service and safe care.
"Watering down this long-awaited workforce plan at the 11th hour would be a further sign of the Government firmly burying its head in the sand.
"We urge ministers to do the right thing by staff, patients and the whole NHS and care system."
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.