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The Budget: funding cuts and pay freeze

An NHS pay freeze will further 'demoralise and devalue' doctors who protect patient care amid budget cuts, the BMA has said.

The comments follow chancellor George Osborne's summer Budget in which he said public sector pay awards will be 1 per cent per year for the next four years.

BMA council chair Mark Porter condemned the Government's failure to explain how the health service would meet its predicted funding gap of £30bn.

He said: ‘The Government has pledged an additional £8bn but has failed to set out how the NHS, already the most efficient healthcare service in the world, can achieve the additional £22bn in efficiency savings needed to plug the gap.‘So far the majority of savings have been found through cutting tariffs paid to hospitals and staff pay.

'The health secretary himself has admitted that continued pay restraint is unsustainable.

'The chancellor’s cynical disregard for NHS staff is shown by this announcement of a pay freeze for another four years at a time when he knows inflation will rise above that.'


Low morale

He added: ‘The continual chipping away at staff pay has left doctors feeling demoralised and devalued.

'It is simply wrong to expect hard-working NHS staff to continue to bear the burden for the Government’s failure to put NHS finances on a sustainable footing.’

Announcing his Budget in the Commons, Mr Osborne said the NHS was the Government’s first priority but admitted the health service would still have to meet ‘challenging efficiency savings’ in the current Parliament.

Mr Osborne also confirmed that public health services faced a £200m cut, despite previous warnings from the BMA that such a move would ‘gut’ vital frontline services depended on by the most vulnerable.

Dr Porter said: ‘The decision contradicts the Government's claim to support more investment in preventive health and is at odds with the prime minister's specific desire to 'get rid of unnecessary demand for the NHS by investing in public health'.

‘This will have a significant negative impact on the ability of local authorities to provide services and will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable people in society who suffer from the inequalities that public health medicine is there to address.’

Read the BMA Blog on the Budget

Read Dr Porter's response in full