Doctors have called on the chancellor to prioritise extra funding for the NHS in next week’s autumn Budget to secure patient care and ease growing pressures in the service.
The call comes in a letter from BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul to chancellor Philip Hammond, which points to growing demand in general practice, secondary, public and mental healthcare.
The letter welcomes the Government’s previous pledge to boost NHS budgets by £20bn by 2023/24 but warns the planned increase will be insufficient ‘given the scale of problems the NHS faces’.
‘The BMA has previously stated – along with other respected health think tanks such as The King’s Fund, The Health Foundation and The Nuffield Trust – that a funding increase of at least 4 per cent year-on-year is required to tackle the ever-growing demand,’ his letter adds.
‘The new funding of a 3.4 per cent uplift at best will therefore not be sufficient to meet the current needs of patients, and certainly falls short of delivering transformation within the NHS, which is desperately needed to put our health service on a safe and sustainable footing.’
The UK is already lagging behind other EU countries on several measures, the letter points out, with just one doctor for every 360 people compared to the EU average of one per 288. Comparable countries, such as France and Germany, have more than twice as many beds.
Evidence of rising demand is also flagged in the letter. The first seven months of 2018 saw a 7 per cent rise in emergency emissions compared with the same period last year. More than four million patients in England are on treatment waiting lists as winter approaches.
Dr Nagpaul also raises concerns about the large drop in doctors’ pay in the past decade and the ‘perverse incentive’ of NHS pension rules driving those in senior positions to cut hours or retire early.
‘If the UK is to maintain its position in delivering a world-class health service, providing innovative treatments and attracting the best medical talent, as a minimum we will need to increase investment in line with levels elsewhere in Europe,’ the letter states.
‘The Budget must offer a financial settlement for the NHS that supplements the amount announced for the long-term plan and enables our health and care services to provide safe, high-quality care for patients now, and in the long term.'
The autumn Budget will take place on 29 October.
Read the BMA’s letter
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