Hospital Dr News

BMA wants NHS funding raised to European average as public say services will get worse

Six out of ten members of the public think the NHS will get worse over the next few years.

This is a key finding of BMA research, released at its annual conference in Bournemouth, and has risen from four out of ten two years ago.

As the government’s austerity continues to affect the NHS, the research shows that the public now expects waiting times to rise, the scope and availability of services to contract, and the NHS not receiving adequate funding.

Dr Mark Porter, the outgoing Chair of BMA Council, told members: “We don’t have to spend less of our GDP than other leading European economies on health. Our government has chosen to do this. If we spent the average – the average, not the most – then patients would see £15 billion extra investment in the English NHS within five years.

“The government wants a world-class NHS with a third-class settlement. So do the other main political parties. They share the failure of vision. Under all the plans set out in the election, the share of GDP spent on health would have actually fallen.”

The poll also reveals that more people are unhappy with the NHS than satisfied for the first time.

Forty three per cent of respondents are dissatisfied with the NHS, and 33% are satisfied – a doubling of dissatisfaction in two years.

In 2015 a BMA survey found that 21% were dissatisfied, with 56% saying they were satisfied. In 2016, 37% reported that they were dissatisfied, with 41% satisfied.

Porter also raised doubts about the way ahead, suggesting that Sustainability and Transformation Plans are destined to fail in the current funding environment.

“STPs are about sustainability and transformation in name and name alone,” he said.

“For how can they be called sustainable when they are forced to find £26 billion of cuts in health and social care?

“How can they bring about seismic transformation when they need £10 billion of investment just to get off the ground? That’s more than twice the capital budget, even before it’s raided to pay off hospital deficits, and I don’t think loans and land sales will make up the shortfall either.

“Millions of people could be adversely affected.”

He also called on the government to be stronger and more decisive on introducing public health measures to ease the pressure on the NHS.

The poll also shows that 82% of the 1000 respondees are worried about the future of the NHS, with only 13% thinking the NHS will get better.

The public’s leading concerns are lack of funding (50%), the possibility that the NHS may cease to be free at the point of use (41%) and that waiting times will increase (35%).

Almost seven out of ten (69%) think the NHS will not get sufficient attention because of Brexit.

Dr Porter steps down as BMA Council Chair on Thursday 29 June and will be replaced by GP Dr Chaand Nagpaul.

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.

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