The enormous NHS challenges will only be addressed if future Governments take a long-term view on healthcare policy.
BMA council chair Mark Porter (pictured right) made the comment in response to the Labour Party outlining its 10-year vision for the health service, which includes investment in staff and greater integration of care from home to hospital.
He said that long-term investment and funding were vital considerations for any Government taking charge of the health service following this year’s general election.
Dr Porter said: ‘That politicians are taking a longer-term view on the NHS is a step in the right direction.
‘If the NHS is to survive in the face of enormous challenges, investment must keep up with demand and health and social care services need to be properly funded and working together more effectively.'
Under plans announced earlier this week, the Labour Party has said that it would implement a raft of changes to the health service as part of a 10-year strategy including:
- Integrating services from home to hospital, helping end 15-minute care slots through new year-of-care budgets, incentivising providers to improve social care and prevent vulnerable patients falling ill or injuring themselves
- Creating a new arm of the NHS: 5,000 homecare workers in the NHS to help those with the greatest needs, including the terminally ill so they can stay with their families at the end of life, and those who are leaving hospital who need extra help if they are to move back into their homes
- Ensuring all vulnerable older people would be offered a safety check to identify risks to their health such as cold homes, loneliness and the likelihood of them falling, so that problems can be tackled and they avoid unnecessary hospital visits.
Commenting on the plan, Dr Porter said: ‘While the promise of more frontline staff, better joined-up care and improvements in mental health services are important steps in the right direction, these will take time to deliver and must be backed up with the necessary long-term funding to make them a reality.
He added: ‘The NHS is under unprecedented financial pressure. Demand is rising faster than investment and a funding gap of £30bn is opening up, yet no political party has come close to explaining how they would address this funding shortfall.
'If the NHS is to keep up with patient demand it needs a long-term, fully funded, sustainable plan to address pressures across the system.’
Read the BMA's general election 2015 manifesto