Responding to an NHS England announcement made today on a package of new contingency actions to respond to pressures on frontline services this winter, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said:
“Any steps to address the recruitment and retention crisis in emergency medicine are welcome, but with many existing training places going unfilled we need to address the root causes of the staffing crisis in our A&Es, in particular concerns around workload, stress and burnout.
“Physician associates are a valued part of the NHS but it’s important to be clear about the scope of their work, which is to provide an intermediate level of care and help reduce workload pressures. Only doctors can provide certain types of care so the government need to ensure that standards won't be affected by these changes and the quality of patient care will be protected and maintained. It's also important that these new posts do not erode training opportunities for junior doctors, or undermine the vital role they play in delivering care.
“More detail is needed on the new emergency pressures panel, exactly what support it will provide and how it will directly benefit patients. Any panel must adopt a system-wide approach, as general practice and social care also face rising pressures during this period and we need to be much better in tracking the rising demand in these areas. What the NHS really needs it additional capacity, more beds, staff and funding to deal with the rise in demand on services which becomes acute during the winter period.”
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.