Hospital Dr News

Chair of BMA Council: NHS now facing a crisis all year round

The NHS is facing an ‘all year crisis’ as underfunding compromises the quality and safety of services.

That’s the message from Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the BMA Council Chair, in his key note address to the union’s Annual Representative Meeting in Brighton.

The comments came as interim findings from a major BMA survey of doctors finds almost three quarters feel that financial targets are prioritised over patient care in the NHS.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • 78% say that underfunding is significantly affecting quality and safety in the NHS.
  • 95% say they are fearful of making a medical error and 55% fear they will be blamed for errors due to pressures or system failings in their workplace.
  • Most doctors say waiting times for patients (76%) and NHS services overall (76%) have worsened in the last 12 months.
  • Only 5% say staffing levels are adequate to support quality patient care.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA Chair of Council, said: “We know the NHS has been systematically and scandalously starved of resources for years. It lacks doctors, it lacks nurses, it lacks beds.

“We’re being run ragged. A health service of gaps and stopgaps where two out of three juniors report holes in their rota and one third of GP practices have long-term vacancies. It’s the new norm. It’s a new low.

“Do you remember when winter pressures only happened in the winter? We now have an all-year crisis. Today in Brighton we may be in the midst of summer, but in the NHS it’s still winter.”

Responding to the Government’s recent commitment to increase NHS funding by 3.4% annually, and agree a long-term funding deal for the health service, Dr Nagpaul questioned whether it would be enough.

He said: “The investment is still well short of what’s needed and we need it now. We will continue to campaign to be at parity with our European neighbours. Meanwhile it’s crucial that this money is delivered to treat patients and attract and retain staff.

“Given the taxpayer is being asked to contribute more, the government has an equal moral imperative to stop wasting billions from current taxpayers pockets on the damaging NHS market in England – money which should be used to treat patients but being squandered in futile transactions, bureaucratic processes, fragmentation and PFI deals.”

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