Responding to a report by the Health Select Committee which says that whilst spending on health is increasing, the service is under unprecedented strain and struggling to keep pace with relentlessly rising demand, Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, said:
“This is another stark warning about the financial crisis that is engulfing the NHS. The BMA has previously voiced its concerns about the spending review’s definition of ‘NHS spending’, which means health spending will rise by only £4.5 billion in real terms by 2020-21, rather than the £10 billion announced by the government. This is far less than the funding requirements set out in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View, before the government’s announcement of its intention to introduce seven day services which will further increase resource pressures.
“Moreover, the swingeing cuts to the public health budget are both at odds with the government’s commitment to protect and invest in public health services and the emphasis on prevention. Without significant funding to tackle obesity, alcohol abuse and smoking, it will be impossible to implement the public health measures set out in the five year forward view that are fundamental to maintaining an affordable NHS. Cuts to the public health grant will inevitably lead to cutting services and will, in the longer term, result in greater costs for the NHS and the taxpayer.
“Patients deserve more than sticking plaster measures to help the worsening financial situation. Staff shortages are seen across the NHS, waiting times for patients remain high, and there is no real solution to the £22bn funding gap facing our health service. If the prime minister is serious about tackling health inequality then we need to see a long term strategy for the NHS that addresses the fundamental workload and funding challenges that are overwhelming our health service. The British public can only hope that a new government is minded to listen to these concerns, made yet again by another important group worried that the government is mismanaging the NHS.”
Notes to editors
- The British Medical Association (BMA) is the voice of doctors and medical students in the UK. It is an apolitical professional association and independent trade union, representing doctors and medical students from all branches of medicine across the UK and supporting them to deliver the highest standards of care.