In its manifesto of demands ahead of next month’s vote, the doctors’ union called for an increase in health spending from the current 9.8% to 10.4% of GDP, in line with similar EU countries. Such an increase would, it said, have provided an extra £10.3bn for the NHS in 2015, enough to fund 10,000 new GPs.
In a recent survey of doctors by the BMA, 62% reported either absolute or relative cuts to funding over the past 12 months. More than half said patient care had worsened, while over 60% said maintaining safety was more difficult.
BMA chair Dr Mark Porter waned that it would be too easy for the snap general election to be dominated by Brexit but that politicians ‘ignore it at their peril’.
The union called for proper funding to deliver ‘manageable, safe workloads for GPs’ and to make general practice a more attractive career option to increase recruitment and retention and ‘recruit an extra 10,000 GPs’.
The NHS in England is committed to recruiting an additional 5,000 full-time equivalent GPs by 2020 compared to 2014 after the Conservatives pledged the increase ahead of the 2015 election. Last week the RCGP called on the parties to commit to meeting that 5,000 target.
The BMA manifesto also called on the next government to make sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) evidence-based and properly funded, and put patient care as the priority. The partnerships, it said, should undergo full consultation with clinicians, patients and the public before changes are finalised.
Dr Porter said: ‘Our hospitals and GP surgeries are full, social care is on its knees, with staff working under impossible conditions. This election is being fought against the backdrop of one of the worst winters on record for the NHS, with doctors reporting funding cuts and concerns over patient care and safety.
‘Whoever leads the next government must ensure that NHS funding keeps pace with other European nations, that the NHS and EU doctors in the UK are protected from the impact of Brexit, that general practice is properly supported, that policies protect and enhance the public’s health, and that the pressures impacting the day-to-day delivery of high-quality, safe care are tackled.
‘We call on politicians of all parties not to duck this crisis any longer, or use the NHS as a political football, and instead to outline credible plans that will deliver the fully funded and supported NHS that staff want and patients deserve.’