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BMA responds to 2017 spring budget

Responding to the chancellor’s spring budget, Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, said:

“This budget does nothing to address the gaping hole in NHS finances. There is a £30bn gap to fill and we should be increasing the UK’s health spending by at least £10.3bn to match that of other leading European economies[1]. The NHS and social care are at breaking point[2] and have been failed by party politics for too long. We need politicians from all sides to come together to agree a long-term solution to the challenges facing health and social care.

“We have a crisis in social care happening right now, so any funding to help provide the care patients so clearly need is a help. Failures within the social care system hugely affect an already stretched, overworked and underfunded NHS - most NHS trust finance directors have said that cuts in local authority social care budgets are adversely affecting NHS services[3]. For doctors to look after patients well, social care needs to be well-funded and adequately staffed.

“The crisis in the NHS doesn’t stop at the hospital door – our A&E’s are struggling because of an overstretched system. Having GPs in A&E won’t reduce admissions – if anything this could have the effect of attracting more patients to hospitals. The government also needs to explain how it will fund and recruit GPs to work on site at hospitals when there already aren’t enough to meet the needs of the public. Many are already working in practices with permanent vacancies which they are unable to fill, despite government promises at the last election to recruit 5,000 more doctors into general practice[4].

“The chancellor’s announcement of £325m of funding for some STPs is unlikely to go far enough, and we know that the plans need at least £9.5bn of total capital funding to be delivered successfully[5].

“Our health service is one of the best in the world, but is, increasingly, failing too many people for too much of the time. Put simply, today’s budget does not go far enough to address this.”

Commenting on confirmation of the rates for the soft drinks levy, Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, said: 

“This is a welcome and crucial move which will help to reduce the prevalence of obesity in the UK.

“We know from experiences in other countries that taxation on sugary drinks can improve health outcomes. With one in five children starting primary school – aged four or five – overweight,  this is a vital step forward; yet a sugar tax alone is not enough.

“To ensure that we can reduce the growing levels of obesity in the UK, and protect the next generation from diet-related illness, we are keen to see action in other areas that were not in the childhood obesity strategy, such as restrictions on junk food marketing that targets children, and action on price promotions.”   


Notes to editors

The British Medical Association (BMA) is the voice of doctors and medical students in the UK. It is an apolitical professional organisation 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.

  1. https://www.bma.org.uk/collective-voice/influence/key-negotiations/nhs-funding/budget-2017
  2. https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/press/press-releases/social-care-budget-cuts-damaging-nhs-latest-quarterly-monitoring-report-finds
  3. https://www.bma.org.uk/news/media-centre/press-releases/2016/december/a-third-of-gp-partners-unable-to-fill-staff-vacancies-for-12-months
  4. https://www.bma.org.uk/news/media-centre/press-releases/2017/february/capital-funding-needed-to-deliver-stps
  5. The NHS is one of the best health services in the world, but right now it is at breaking point – see more here.
  6. For media enquiries please email [email protected] or call 0207 383 6448 .

For further information please contact:

British Medical Association, BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JP
Telephone: 020 7383 6448 
Email: [email protected]
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