Responding to the Prime Minister’s speech to the Conservative Conference, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said:
“The decision to introduce an opt-out system for organ donation in England is excellent news. The BMA has lobbied and campaigned tirelessly on this for years and has the potential to save many lives. It is important that the new process is well publicised to ensure the public are fully aware of and understand this important change. The health service must also have the resources, as well as facilities, to ensure transplant procedures can be performed when they are needed.
“It is also encouraging that the Prime Minister has announced that the government will be conducting a review of mental health services. The BMA has argued for many years that mental health services are underfunded and overwhelmed by demand, with many vulnerable patients struggling to get access to the right level of care because of a lack of integration and preventive care. The Prime Minister is right to highlight the worrying issues faced by individuals from an ethnic minority background who suffer from high rates of detention under the Mental Health Act’s provisions. Any review of the Act must seek evidence from a wide range of health specialist and community sources, and it has to consider the fundamental funding problems facing mental health services. Changes to the law will be meaningless unless there are resources to provide the specialist help that many vulnerable patients need.
“It is right that the Prime Minister thanked NHS staff for their hard work, however, it is disappointing that as with the Health Secretary speech yesterday, there have been no new announcements aimed at addressing the mounting crisis that is already overwhelming many parts of the NHS and will only get worse during the winter.
“The Conservatives have been in power for the last seven years, and despite government claims that funding has increased, the decade from 2010 to 2020 will see the smallest annual increases in UK healthcare spending than any previous period. Across the country, hospitals, GP practices and other services are under unprecedented strain from rising patient demand, inadequate budgets and widespread staff shortages. This pressure will only worsen if the many thousands of EU citizens working in the NHS choose to leave following Brexit.
“We urgently need the government to bring UK spending on the health service up to the same level as other European economies1, this would pay for tens of thousands more beds and doctors and reverse some of the damaging cuts to vital services. Further funding and better integration in the NHS are vital to delivering the standard of healthcare that the public needs and deserves.”
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.
- The BMA is calling for spending on the NHS to rise to match that of other leading EU economies. Using the most recent OECD data, this means that the UK would spend 10.4% of GDP on health instead of the 9.8%. By 2022/23 this would mean spending on the NHS in England would be £14.6bn more than currently projected.