The BMA has called for increased investment to put the NHS back on a sustainable footing and an end to the punitive pension tax system which is driving doctors out of the workforce, in a manifesto to the political parties contesting the upcoming general election.
In the manifesto for health, the association urges a funding increase of 4.1 per cent, a focus on prevention with tougher action on smoking, alcohol misuse, physical inactivity and poor diet, a final say for the public on any Brexit deal, legislation for safe staffing and an end to the pension tax system. There is growing evidence of the effect of the pensions crisis from a host of surveys carried out by medical royal colleges and other medical groups in the past week. The manifesto also urges fair pay for doctors which truly values the medical workforce and helps to retain staff.
The need for urgent action comes as new analysis from the BMA shows more than one million patients could experience waits of more than four hours at emergency departments this winter and almost a third of a million will wait on trolleys to be treated.
The report warns that NHS is on track to endure its worst-ever winter, as analysis of emergency care four-hour wait times, emergency care admissions and attendances and trolley waits suggest that pressures on services look set to skyrocket in the coming months.
Ahead of the upcoming election, the BMA is calling on the Government to prioritise the NHS as it warns of a ‘perfect storm’ caused by a lack of recovery form the worst-ever summer, along with staff shortages, a predicted cold winter and bad flu season, as well as the effect of Brexit.
Doctors brace themselves
BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘Enough is enough. Right across the health service, trusts and GP practices will be bracing themselves for what looks set to be the worst winter the NHS has ever endured.
‘Patients should not fear needing hospital care or not being able to see their GP and should not have to accept that they may spend hours on a trolley in an emergency department, waiting to be treated.
‘Equally, staff working in hospitals and GP practices across the country should not be facing the daunting prospect of having to care for those patients in these relentlessly pressurised environments.
‘This perfect storm is brewing alongside the upcoming general election and politicians should be paying close attention to learn from the failures to invest in and support our health service for over a decade.’
Dr Nagpaul added: ‘Though the need for urgent funding this winter is pressing, this is not just about the short-term fix. This is about the current and any future Government putting the NHS back on a sustainable footing, with capacity to meet the demands on its services.
‘That requires sufficient numbers of beds and facilities, and an adequately staffed workforce that is ready and motivated to meet rising pressures, that prioritises healthcare prevention and that puts patient care back in the focus.’