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NHS on 'brink of collapse' ahead of the budget

The crisis in NHS pensions, pay and capital funding has left the health service close to collapse, the BMA has warned ahead of the 2020 budget.

The association has said the Government must commit to an urgent package of measures to increase investment in the health service if unsafe and unacceptable levels of care resulting from the NHS staffing crisis are to be addressed.

These include a move to raise the annual, real-terms increase in health spending from 3 to 4 per cent.

The association is also calling for the chancellor Rishi Sunak to remove the annual allowance from the NHS pension scheme, and to immediately pledge an extra £1bn for investment in public health and £3bn in NHS capital spending respectively.


'Increase investment'

In a submission to Mr Sunak ahead of the 11 March budget, BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul (pictured below) has said years of inadequate funding and a punitive pensions system had fuelled a staffing crisis across health and social care.

With the health service facing a predicted funding gap of £6.2bn by 2023/24, Dr Nagpaul added that unless ministers committed to substantial additional investment, the aims set out in NHS England’s Long-Term Plan would prove unachievable.

He said: ‘I write to you today to urge you to increase investment in health and social care in your budget on 11 March and take steps to resolve the pensions taxation crisis currently facing the NHS. The latest figures from NHS England reveal a health system on the brink of collapse as it endures its worst winter yet.

Chaand-Nagpaul-3 GPC chair 2015 16x9

‘This crisis situation is the result of successive years of under-investment in our NHS and social care services as well as the impact of a poorly designed pensions taxation system. The NHS therefore urgently needs a package of measures in this budget to deal with both the short and long-term challenges it faces.

‘The additional funding promised by the Government last year will not be enough, on its own, to deliver the ambitions set out in NHS England’s Long-Term Plan and will mean that an estimated gap in required funding will be £6.2bn by 2023/24, unless additional funding is announced.’


Trolley waits rise

Figures released by NHS England revealed that the number of trolley waits of more than four hours reached 100,578 between December 2019 and January 2020, a 68 per cent increase on the same period a year ago.

Meanwhile, a report published on 5 February by the National Audit Office showed that the culminative debt owed by trusts to the Department of Health stood at almost £11bn in March 2019.

According to the BMA, existing spending plans for health equate to an annual increase of 3 per cent, 1 per cent short of the minimum that the association, the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Health Foundation have recommended.

As well as urgent reform to pensions and investment in capital expenditure and public health, the BMA is also urging the Government to commit to a review of IT infrastructure across primary and secondary care, to determine how much funding is required to bring this up to standard.

Follow the BMA's consultations and briefing responses


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