Responding to the Queen’s speech today, Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, said:
“There is a crisis unfolding in our NHS and there was simply no acknowledgement of this today. Services are at breaking point, yet the government has chosen to stick its head in the sand, ducking the big issues undermining the delivery of care.
“Doctors prioritise patient safety, but the government’s choice to provide less funding than the health service needs is compromising safe staffing levels.
“Many hospital departments and GP surgeries have numerous unfilled vacancies. Junior doctors try to cope with rota gaps on a daily basis. This creates a vicious circle, adding to existing pressures on doctors, further increasing the risk of burnout and making whole areas of medicine less attractive to doctors in training. A government that is serious about strengthening patient safety would listen, recognise the desperate need to attract more doctors in key areas and act. It must also end the public sector pay cap by which NHS staff pay is cut every year.
“Mental health services too are in desperate need of investment. There are promises of more money but not enough action. Many patients have to travel hundreds of miles for treatment, when they would be better treated nearer home; many do not have any access to outpatient talking treatments for common mental illness such as depression or have to wait a year or more; others have tragically taken their own lives before receiving treatment. The NHS has let these patients down. Until the government guarantees extra funding, the measures outlined in this speech will not have the necessary impact.
“The government also needs to reduce the impact that leaving the EU will have on health and social care across the UK, particularly around recruiting staff. To simply close our borders altogether would be terrible for patient care. International doctors bring great skill and expertise to the NHS. Without them, our health service would not be able to cope.”
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.