Seasonal demand forces NHS England to halt non-urgent operations until February
The BMA’s response to NHS England’s decision to halt non-urgent operations until February to free up capacity for the ‘sickest’ patients was featured in The Guardian, The Daily Mail, The Independent, iNews, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Express and a number of regional publications.
Commenting in a press statement, BMA representative body chair, Dr Anthea Mowat, said: “The NHS is in the grips of another winter crisis, as patients face long delays in care, operations are cancelled and staff find themselves working under extremely difficult circumstances.”
Her comments were also included in print coverage in The Newcastle Evening Chronicle and The Brighton Argus
BMA junior doctor committee chair, Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya, was interviewed on BBC Radio Five Live discussing the cancellation of non-urgent operations and the NHS winter crisis.
There was a further regional broadcast coverage by a number of BMA representatives on NHS capacity issues across the country, including:
- BMA council chair, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, on BBC Radio West Midlands
- BMA GP committee chair, Dr Richard Vautrey, on BBC Radio Sheffield, BBC Radio Cumbria and community television station Made TV
- BMA north east regional council chair, Dr George Rae, on BBC One - Look North, BBC Radio Newcastle and BBC Radio Tees. His comments were also included on news bulletins across the Global Radio Network including stations such as LBC, Heart and Smooth
- BMA GP committee deputy chair Dr Mark Sanford Wood on ITV West Country discussing the winter crisis in the South West.
Comments from Dr Chaand Nagpaul saying doctors were ‘horrified but not surprised’ by figures showing the NHS’s poor performance over winter were used in an article in The East Grinstead Courier & Observer and West Cumbria News & Star. Letters in response to the winter crisis from BMA regional council chairs were published in The Eastwood & Kimberley Advertiser, The Hucknall & Bulwell Dispatch and the Cumberland and Westmoreland Herald.
BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey told GP Online: “With limited resources and rising demand it’s the right thing to prioritise the sickest but this is yet another sign of how much pressure the NHS is under.”
Dr Vautrey was also interviewed live on BBC Look North. His comments were used in news bulletins throughout the night on local BBC news bulletins. He also appeared on BBC Radio York to discuss the issue.
BMA council member Dr Tom Dolphin was a guest on the Victoria Derbyshire programme on BBC Two and the BBC News Channel. He discussed the impact of the winter crisis in healthcare on doctors and patients and what action the Government can take to solve problems in the short term and the long term.
The Guardian spoke to healthcare staff working in trusts across the country dealing with the winter pressure since NHS England cancelled non-urgent surgery and appointments in order to cope.
BMA consultants committee emergency medicine lead, Dr Simon Walsh, said he has staff in tears worried they haven’t given patients what they deserve
Junior doctors committee deputy co-chair Dr Hannah Barham-Brown said: “It’s been harder this year as we are working under more pressure than ever."
Dr Lucie Cocker, BMA Yorkshire junior doctors committee chair and emergency medicine doctor, spoke to HuffPost to find out what its really like working in an emergency department now.
BMA GP trainee subcommittee chair, Dr Tom Micklewright, was interviewed on Sky News to discuss the pressures facing the NHS as he warned that the current workload was unstainable and called for a long-term solution to the recruitment and retention crisis in general practice.
BMA medical students committee co-chairs Mita Dhullipala and Harrison Carter wrote a letter on behalf of medical students to The Guardian expressing students’ concerns for the future of the NHS considering the extent of this winter's performance.
Medical students committee co-chair Mita Dhullipala was also interviewed by The New York Times in a series of interviews with NHS workers, from the UK and Europe, about what it’s like to work in the health service, and their hopes and fears for the future.
Comments from BMA East of England regional council chair, Dr Ian Hume featured in the print edition of the Hereford Times as they reported that bed occupancy at a number of hospitals in the regional was at 100 percent capacity during December.
Medical students drafted in to plug staffing gaps
The Guardian reports on emails revealing inexperienced undergraduates are being asked to help in A&E units and wards to combat increasing winter pressures.
Harrison Carter said: “Not only would this be exploitation of students who may be reluctant to say no, but it raises concerns over patient safety if those working on the frontline are asked to work beyond clinical competence.While the government insists the NHS was better prepared than ever before for winter, this shows hospitals resorting to desperate measures to cope with a system struggling with increased demand and lack of staff and resources.”
The story was also covered in The Independent, iNews, BBC News Online, The Daily Mirror, The Times and Pulse.
Doctors blocked from working in the UK
Doctors who have been offered jobs at NHS hospitals with staff shortages are being blocked from entering the UK by the Home Office, iNews reports.
A clip from an interview with Dr Chaand Nagpaul saying a cap on the number of the non-EU doctors being admitted to the UK was affecting the ability to provide proper healthcare, was used in news bulletins on commercial radio stations across the country including Share Radio and Smooth.
In a letter in the Guardian, the President of the Royal College of Physicians, Dr Jane Dacre, writes that it is ‘astonishing’ that the home office would block appropriately qualified doctors from working in the NHS. In the letter she references recent BMA data revealing huge gaps in rotas which are limiting doctors’ ability to deliver the standard of care they were trained to.
Commenting, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said: "Visa restrictions and arbitrary and outdated caps for non-EU workers entering the UK have made recruiting to NHS posts more difficult."
GPs under-pressure treating up to one hundred patients a day
A survey by trade magazine Pulse found GPs are having almost twice the safe number of patients contacts every day.
In a press statement, GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said unmanageable and unsafe workloads are the reason doctors are leaving general practice causing practices to have to close lists to new patients or close entirely.
His comments were picked up in most major newspapers, in print and online, this morning including The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, Press Association, The Daily Express, iNews, The Daily Mirror, The Daily Mail, The Times and ITV News Online.
Our response was also mentioned on Sky News’ breakfast programme, Sunrise, and in a comprehensive feature on Sky News Online.
Short-term fixes not fitting for NHS
In response to the current winter crisis in the NHS, a comment piece by BMA council chair, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, featured in The Daily Mirror as he warned that short-term fixes for the NHS will only go so far.
Dr Nagpaul writes: “Problems at the hospital front door are often linked to delays at the hospital back door, as patients who are well enough to leave often have nowhere go due to shortage of social and community care.”
Health unions write letter pleading for emergency NHS funding boost
The Daily Mirror reports 12 major health trade unions including the BMA have written to the health secretary urging for an emergency funding boost and that the health service has the money it needs.
The letter, which appeared in full in print, was signed by BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul
Winter performance figures paint clear picture of overstretched NHS
NHS England published the latest set of daily performance figures which give an impression of how the health service has performed over the festive period.
In a press statement, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “These figures paint a clear picture of just how congested and overstretched the system is, and is further evidence that pressure on the NHS continues to intensify.”
Dr Nagpaul added: “We urgently need more long-term planning to ensure the NHS can meet rising demand on services and has the capacity to deal with the inevitable spike in demand each winter.” His comments were included in Metro and Pulse. The BMA’s concerns were reflected in articles for Mail Online and The Northern Echo.
Theresa May on Andrew Marr show
The BMA’s response to Theresa May’s interview on the Andrew Marr show, in which she came under pressure to answer questions regarding the poor performance of the NHS this winter, featured in the print editions of The Daily Mail, The Daily Mirror, Metro and ITV Online.
Commenting, BMA council chair, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said: “The Government must acknowledge that the NHS does not currently have the resources nor capacity to meet the needs of patients, and we need an honest debate about the investment and support the NHS needs to deliver safe, high-quality care.”
Carillion collapse threatens fate of hospitals
Speaking exclusively to The Guardian, the BMA council chair, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, has called for answers over the fate of two major hospitals in Birmingham and Liverpool that Carillion were building when the company went into collapse.
14 hospital trusts across England are linked to outsourcing giant Carillion which has gone into liquidation and The BMA is calling for clarity about what happens to services provided by the company which includes the construction of new hospitals and patient catering services.
In a press statement, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “We urgently need government to provide clarity around what happens next and assurances that the hospitals affected will continue to be able to provide high quality services for patients.”
The story was reported by Mail Online and Press Association.
Sustainable solutions needs to tackle NHS Crisis
Emergency medicine doctor and BMA junior doctor committee chair in Yorkshire, Dr Lucie Cocker, wrote an article for The Yorkshire Post, which appeared in print and as the top story on their website today, describing how unrelenting pressure affects frontline staff.
She writes: “The waiting room is heaving, cubicles are overflowing with patients and the waiting time to be seen by a doctor is growing longer and longer.”
Harrison Carter, BMA medical students committee co-chair, wrote an article for the BMJ arguing that asking medical students to volunteer in A&Es paints a woeful picture of the NHS.
The BMA also responded to a report by the NAO (National Audit Office) which revealed that additional funding to help the NHS get on a financially sustainable footing has instead been spent on coping with existing pressures which was featured in The Daily Mail, iNews, BBC News Online, Sky News, Pulse and The Yorkshire Post. Read the full response here.
Quarterly survey reveals rota gaps and widespread vacancies
The BMA’s quarterly survey, published this month which found more than seven in 10 hospital doctors reported rota gaps in their departments, and half of GPs reported vacancies in their practice was covered in The Independent, Mail Online, The Daily Telegraph, Pulse and The Yorkshire Post
BMA south west regional council chair, Dr Helena McKeown, was interviewed on BBC radio stations in the region discussing the problems of rota gaps and GP vacancies
Read the press release here.
Further coverage of the results of the BMA’s quarterly survey was found in The Cornish Times and letters elaborating on the survey’s findings and what the Government can do to alleviate doctors’ concerns from BMA regional council chairs featured in the Sunderland Echo
Government to review prescription drug dependence
The BMA’s response to the announcement that the Government has commissioned a review into the growing problem of addiction to prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines was reported in the The Guardian, BBC News Online, The Times, The Independent, The Daily Mail and Pulse.
Read the press statement here.
NHS needs a plan
In an exclusive comment piece for the Times red box, emergency medicine doctor and deputy co-chair of the BMA junior doctor committee, Dr Hannah Barham-Brown, wrote about the challenges of being an emergency doctor throughout the busy winter period.
She also joined Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd on their Reasons to be Cheerful podcast to discuss her experiences of winter pressures as an A&E doctor and funding solutions for the NHS.
CQC puts re-inspections on pause
The CQC (Care Quality Commission) has decided to pause re-inspections of good and outstanding GP practices for the month of January according to Pulse.
Dr Mark Sanford-Wood, BMA GP committee deputy chair, said: 'It is right that the CQC has taken the decision to suspend inspections for the vast majority of GP practices and other parts of the NHS that have a good or outstanding rating."
NHS Confed head suggests junior doctors should pay back fees if moving abroad
In an article for The Daily Telegraph, NHS Confederation chief executive suggested junior doctors should be forced to pay back some of their training costs to the NHS is they choose to work abroad after qualifying.
Responding in The Times, The Independent, and The Daily Telegraph, BMA medical student committee co-chair, Dr Mita Dhullipala, said: “We must address the underlying reasons why many leave the NHS, which are primarily to do with workload, stress and burnout.”
GPs spend 55 hours a year revalidating
Pulse reports GPs spend on average 55 hours a year on the revalidation process – equivalent to 1,300 full-time GPs working eight sessions a week – according to a survey conducted by the trade magazine. The story was also covered in The Sun.
GP committee deputy chair Dr Mark Sanford Wood said: "We need a national discussion about the evidence that’s required versus the delivery of patient care, particularly at the moment where we just don’t have enough GPs to do that job."
Missed appointments costing the NHS billions each year
BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul was interviewed live on LBC yesterday evening in response to news millions of missed appointments is costing the NHS substantial amounts of money every year.
Speaking to Iain Dale, Dr Nagpaul said: “It’s not just the financial cost, it’s the fact it’s adding to the waits patients have to see their doctor. It’s a problem that needs to be tackled.”
Commenting in an article in The Times, Dr Nagpaul said: “These worrying figures emphasise the scale of waste of precious NHS resources due to millions of missed appointments — appointments that could be used to treat patients given the increase in hospital waiting times.”
GPs and nurses to be 999 first responders
The Independent, The Daily Mirror and The I report on guidance sent to GPs and nurses by a CCG (clinical commissioning group) in County Durham setting out how they may act as “first responders” to some 999 calls.
Commenting, Dr Andrew Green, said: “This is a sad reflection of the pressures that all parts of the health service are under at the moment, due to the failure of the government to provide the resources needed to meet increased demand.”
Rise in flu cases adds to hospital pressures
The Daily Telegraph reports that a spike in the number of flu cases is placing hospitals under increasing pressure as NHS surveillance reveals that flu cases have risen by 67 percent a week in England. They report that officials have written to GPs promising to offer a new ‘superjab’ to older patients from next autumn.
Commenting, BMA council chair, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said: “The scenes on the ground are shocking; patients not just receiving care in corridors but unable to get in the front door.
Bawa Garba case
Pulse reported that doctors have said new guidance is now urgently needed on how doctors’ reflections are used and recorded after a High Court ruling which led to a junior doctor being struck off.
BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the case raises questions and concerns about how reflections, an important tool for learning and professional development, are used.
BMA fatigue paper
The BMJ exclusively reported on a paper published by the BMA looking at the impact of fatigue and sleep deprivation on doctors and clinical staff. The paper highlights why doctors are at risk of fatigue and the acute and long-term impacts this can have. It also presents a framework for how the Government, organisations and doctors themselves can manage this risk. Commenting, BMA council chair, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said: “This paper highlights the need for reform of current working patterns to safeguard doctors and clinical staff against the impact of excessive workloads and the increasing complexity and number of consultations resulting from wider pressures on the NHS such as staff shortages, funding constraints and growing patient demand.
Survey shows one in five practices cutting routine appointments under intense pressure
Pulse reports workload pressures are pushing GP services to a point ‘close to collapse’ as more than half of GP practices admit they are cutting back on clinical services or consider doing so, a survey has revealed.
The story was also included in The Daily Telegraph in print. GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said this winter wasthe worst the NHS has experienced for 30 years.
NHS Supply Chain may still use instruments procured from unethical manufacturers
The Guardian reports children as young as 12 are making surgical instruments in hazardous conditions in Pakistan, prompting fears that the tools could be used in the health service. The news report builds on the BMA’s work into ethical procurement who have campaigned to end the practice in the developing world.
Coverage of NHS surgeon and founder of the BMA’s Medical Fair & Ethical Trade Group, Mahmood Bhutta, regarding the issue of the use of child labour to manufacture surgical instruments in Pakistan in the International Business Times and Pakistan Today.
Bedside manner is important
BMA council chair, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, response to the announcement by the Patients Association chief exec, Rachel Power, that doctors and nurses should be tested more rigorously on their bedside manner before working in the NHS featured in the Times.
Commenting, Dr Nagpaul, said: “While the priority when hiring medical professionals must be clinical expertise, emphasis must also be placed on a value-led, compassionate approach so that patients can feel comfortable, and have trust and confidence in the care they receive from doctors and other frontline staff during what can be an incredibly distressing time.”
Study shows lack of GP services not reason for A&E pressure
More patients aren’t attending A&E because they can’t get a GP appointment but because they have long term health conditions, according to Pulse.
GP committee deputy chair Dr Mark Sanford-Wood welcomed the findings. He said: “In the past some politicians have sought to blame overcrowding in A&Es on general practice, so it is positive to see further evidence showing that this is not the case.”
Prescribed drug dependence
GP committee clinical and prescribing lead Dr Andrew Green spoke to The Times about patients with prescription drug dependence seeking help in online forums due to a lack of adequate specialist services to treat addiction.
Dr Andrew Green was interviewed by ITV Calendar, the regional news programme for Yorkshire and the North Midlands, about the BMA’s recommendations to tackle prescribed drug dependence including a national 24 hour helpline.
The Mail reported that the NHS is to withdraw funding for a service at mental health charity Mind in Camden to help those addicted to sleeping tablets and tranquilisers. It reported the BMA and other leading medical organisations have called on the government to set up a national helpline to help those struggling with addiction to prescription drugs.
Warning over pregabalin addiction
The Mail on Sunday reported that the BMA has called for more to be done to protect patients against the potential risk of abuse and addiction associated with the prescription of anti-anxiety medication such as pregabalin and gabapentin.
GP pressures in the South West
BMA GP exec committee member, Dr Mark Sanford-Wood, was interviewed on the ITV West Country news following recruitment issues at a surgery in Somerset as he spoke about the wider pressures facing general practice.
Stephen Hawkins and doctors granted judicial review
Comments from BMA council member, Dr David Wrigley, featured in an article in the Independent which reported that Professor Stephen Hawking and leading doctors have won permission to take Jeremy Hunt and NHS England to court over proposals to restructure the health service.
Patient information leaflet
The Lancashire Evening Telegraph reported that a new leaflet produced by NHS England, the BMA and the National Association for Patient Participation, has been developed and is available in all GP practices across Lancashire and South Cumbria to help answer common patient questions when they are referred to a specialist or hospital consultant.