Thursday, 11 July 2013

Deepening crisis in the NHS

NHS England has today called on the public, NHS staff and politicians to have an open and honest debate about the future shape of the NHS. This is set against a backdrop of flat funding which, if services continue to be delivered in the same way as now, will result in a funding gap which could grow to £30bn between 2013/14 to 2020/21. We certainly cannot have an honest debate unless  the government is willing to be transparent. A public consultation, a 'call to  action', is a little late in the day. The horse has bolted and the NHS in England faces funding and staff shortages and an ill-conceived reorganisation. 

The NHS is reeling from an unwanted reorganisation and, far from being ring fenced as claimed by the government, cuts of £20 billion in so-called 'efficiency savings'. The government has delivered a mortal blow to the NHS and introduced privatisation which will  starve in-house services of much needed funding. 

Responding to NHS England’s 'call to action', Chair of BMA Council, Dr Mark Porter, said:

"It will come as no surprise to anyone to hear that the financial crisis in the NHS is deepening, particularly to NHS staff seeing the impact of these pressures first-hand. The BMA’s own analysis shows that the service will have to make do with three quarters of its existing budget.

"The Government has spent two years forcing through an unwanted reorganisation instead of giving the service space to address the funding crisis. New organisations are struggling to establish themselves while in deficit from the start.1

“So far most of the savings found have come from staff pay or cuts in tariffs for services, which is neither sustainable nor likely to deliver the savings needed to protect patient care.

"Doctors care deeply about patient care and more want to be empowered in order to make the necessary changes but are being held back by increased red tape and lack of support from the top. In the face of rising patient demand, an ageing population and the cost of keeping pace with new technologies and treatments, it is no surprise they feel demoralised and frustrated. A trend that will only worsen if they continue to be made the scapegoat for the problems facing the NHS and when the pressures on them are increasing. Doctors have and always will work on behalf of their patients and yet the Government has so far brushed them aside, instead proclaiming themselves as the only patient champions. I hope that doctors will be given a real voice in helping to meet the challenges we face.”

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