Wednesday, 19 March 2014

BMA: 'Shameful' Budget does nothing for NHS shortfall


Calling today's budget presented by the Chancellor 'shameful' the BMA has condemned it for doing nothing to address the NHS funding shortfall. 

Responding to the Budget today Dr Mark Porter, Chair of BMA Council says

“Despite claiming the economy is on the up, today's budget does nothing to address the crippling funding shortfall in the NHS.

"While the Government claims the NHS budget is protected, in reality it's suffered £20bn of cuts, billions of which have come from a sustained attack on staff pay.

"If growth forecasts are rising it’s even more shameful that the Government won’t even agree to a 1 per cent uplift, as recommended by an independent pay review body, for all front-line NHS staff.

"Doctors and other staff face increasingly challenging, high pressured and stressful work environments. Cuts to budgets and rising workloads are leading to a recruitment and retention crisis in many parts of the NHS, and we're already seeing the effect of this on emergency medicine. The announcement by the Chancellor to continue with pay restraint and more public sector cuts, if re-elected in the next parliament, will only compound this.

"If, as the Chancellor has said, growth is higher than expected then the Government needs to consider additional funding for the NHS. Without the investment needed to meet rising patient demand and put the NHS on a sustainable financial footing the Government need to face up to the reality that patient care, and indeed the very future of the NHS, will be at risk."

Commenting on tobacco and alcohol duty Professor Sheila Hollins, Chair of the BMA's Board of Science, said:

“The Government is giving with one hand and taking with another, with a step forward on measures to reduce smoking but backward on tackling alcohol related harm.

“The announcement to extend the tobacco escalator is an important and welcome one. It will reduce the affordability of cigarettes, which is key to deterring children from starting to smoke. With half of smokers dying from a smoking related disease anything that makes it less attractive is a step in the right direction.

"Scrapping the alcohol escalator and reducing beer duty, coupled with the Government's U-turn on plans to introduce a minimum unit price, shows the Government has abandoned any serious efforts to tackle alcohol related harm.

"With the costs of alcohol related harm estimated at £20bn in England alone, of which £2bn is on healthcare, there is a clear economic as well as a public health case for why urgent action is needed.

"The BMA will continue to call on the Government to introduce a minimum unit price. We know that minimum pricing reduces alcohol related harm amongst the heaviest drinkers while leaving responsible drinkers largely unaffected. This is because virtually all pub drinks, as well as the majority of shop-bought beers, wines and spirits would not be affected by a proposed 50p threshold.”

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