BMA calls on Theresa May to address 'overwhelming' NHS crisis

The BMA has called on prime minister Theresa May to address the crisis that is 'overwhelming' health services after her speech to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester today failed to offer any additional funding or measures for the NHS.

BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul (Photo: JH Lancy)
BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul (Photo: JH Lancy)

BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘It is disappointing that there have been no new announcements aimed at addressing the mounting crisis that is already overwhelming many parts of the NHS and will only get worse during the winter.

‘The Conservatives have been in power for the last seven years, and despite government claims that funding has increased, the decade from 2010 to 2020 will see the smallest annual increases in UK healthcare spending than any previous period.

‘Across the country, hospitals, GP practices and other services are under unprecedented strain from rising patient demand, inadequate budgets and widespread staff shortages. This pressure will only worsen if the many thousands of EU citizens working in the NHS choose to leave following Brexit.’

The UK currently spends 9.8% of its GDP on health and the BMA wants to see this rise to 10.4% to match spending in other leading EU economies. This would mean that by 2022/23 NHS spending in England would be £14.6bn more than currently projected, the BMA said.

‘This would pay for tens of thousands more beds and doctors and reverse some of the damaging cuts to vital services,’ said Dr Nagpaul. ‘Further funding and better integration in the NHS are vital to delivering the standard of healthcare that the public needs and deserves.’

Organ donation and mental health

During her speech to the conference Ms May did announce plans to move to an opt-out system for organ donation in England.

Presumed consent for organ donation is already in place in Wales, which was the first UK nation to introduce the policy in December 2015. The Scottish government announced it intended to introduce similar legislation earlier this year.

Dr Nagpaul said the announcement was 'excellent news' and would save many lives.

Ms May also said that the government would launch an independent review of the Mental Health Act, which will be led by Professor Sir Simon Wesley, the former president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Ms May said detention rates under the Act were too high and that people from black and minority ethnic populations were disproportionately affected.

Dr Nagpaul said: ‘Any review of the Mental Health Act must seek evidence from a wide range of health specialist and community sources, and it has to consider the fundamental funding problems facing mental health services. Changes to the law will be meaningless unless there are resources to provide the specialist help that many vulnerable patients need.’

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