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BMA angered by budget failure to tackle NHS funding

The BMA has condemned the government’s lack of action to tackle ‘crippling’ NHS funding shortfalls in today’s budget.

Budget 2014The association also attacked chancellor George Osborne’s decision to continue with public sector pay restraints. 

Mr Osborne’s pledge followed last week’s government rejection of the Doctors and Dentists Review Body pay recommendations.

The BMA welcomed the budget announcement to continue to escalate duty on tobacco by 2 per cent above inflation. 

However, it said the government had failed to make any significant effort to reduce alcohol-related harm by scrapping its duty escalator and cutting 1p off the price of a pint of beer.

Spending cuts remain

BMA council chair Mark Porter (pictured below) said: ‘Despite claiming the economy is on the up, today’s budget does nothing to address the crippling funding shortfall in the NHS.

Mark-Porter-QA-196x148‘While the government claims the NHS budget is protected, in reality it has suffered £20bn of cuts, billions of which have come from a sustained attack on staff pay.

‘If growth forecasts are rising it is even more shameful that the government will not even agree to a 1 per cent uplift, as recommended by an independent pay review body, for all frontline NHS staff.’

Dr Porter added that the government’s refusal to invest in the NHS and its workforce was affecting recruitment and retention.

Breaking point

He said: ‘Cuts to budgets and rising workloads are leading to a recruitment and retention crisis in many parts of the NHS, and we are already seeing the effect of this on emergency medicine.

‘The announcement by the chancellor to continue with pay restraint and more public sector cuts, if re-elected, will only compound this.’

He added: ‘Without the investment needed to meet rising patient demand and put the NHS on a sustainable financial footing the government needs to face up to the reality that patient care, and indeed the very future of the NHS, will be at risk.’

BMA board of science chair Baroness Sheila Hollins (pictured below) said, while the continued duty on tobacco was welcome, more action was needed to tackle public health issues.

She said: ‘The government is giving with one hand and taking with another, with a step forward on measures to reduce smoking but backward on tackling alcohol-related harm.

No curb on alcohol misuse

‘The announcement to extend the tobacco escalator is an important and welcome one. It will reduce the affordability of cigarettes, which is key to deterring children from starting to smoke. 

Sheila Hollins BMA President 2012‘With half of smokers dying from a smoking-related disease, anything that makes it less attractive is a step in the right direction.

‘Scrapping the alcohol escalator and reducing beer duty, coupled with the government’s U-turn on plans to introduce a minimum unit price, shows the government has abandoned any serious efforts to tackle alcohol-related harm.’

Baroness Hollins said the BMA would continue to call on the government to introduce a minimum price per unit of alcohol of 50p.  

In other health-related budget news, the chancellor announced a new air ambulance service for London.

 Read BMA council chair Mark Porter's blog on the budget

 Read about the budget details

The story so far