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Doctors call on politicians to invest in the NHS

BMA and RCGP manifestos call for more funding and action to address winter and Brexit

Mark Gould

Thursday, 07 November 2019

The British Medical Association (BMA) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) have today set out their general election manifesto demands, calling for increased investment in the NHS, scrapping “punitive” NHS pension taxes, and immediate action to address impending winter pressures.

In #BackGP the RCGP outlines the risk to general practice and the NHS of leaving the European Union without a deal, not least the threat to the supply of medicines and medical devices for patients and the free movement of healthcare professionals.

The RCGP wants political parties to invest 11% of the NHS budget in frontline general practice. Despite carrying out over 300 million consultations each year, general practice receives less than 10% of the NHS budget.

The manifesto also demands:

  • 5,000 additional GPs in England to tackle the urgent GP workforce crisis, as well as a pledge to expand members of the wider practice team
  • Upgraded and purpose-built GP premises, including high-speed broadband for every GP surgery in the UK, so that patients are seen in modern fit-for purpose surgeries
  • 5,000 more GP training places per year in England and enhanced GP training to reflect the challenges and complexities of modern general practice; and
  • Greater support for GP teams so they can continue to provide high-quality patient care.

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes Lampard said: "The main political parties have already made the NHS a key focus of their campaigns, but the last thing we want to see are vote-winning gimmicks. It is vital that their commitments are realistic and that they support our family doctor service.

"Investment in general practice is investment in the entire NHS. The College is politically neutral but we care deeply about what matters to our patients and to our profession.”

The BMA has launched its manifesto with new research warning that over one million patients could experience waits of over four hours at emergency departments this winter and almost a third of a million patients could wait on trolleys to be treated.

It is calling on the next government to prioritise the NHS, as it warns of a “perfect storm” over the coming months, caused by widespread failure to manage patient need over the summer, along with staff shortages, a potentially cold winter and bad flu season, as well as the impact of Brexit.

The Manifesto for health, calls for:

  • Increase spending on health by 4.1% each year to put the NHS on a sustainable long-term footing;
  • Scrap the punitive pension tax system for the NHS which is driving senior doctors out of the workforce;
  • Place healthcare prevention at the heart of the healthcare system with stronger action on smoking, alcohol misuse, physical inactivity and poor diet;
  • Let the public have the final say on any Brexit deal;
  • Legislate for safe staffing to ensure system-level accountability so that individual clinicians are not blamed when the system places them under unmanageable pressure
  • Pay doctors fairly in a way that truly values our medical workforce and helps to retain staff.

BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said: “Patients should not fear needing hospital care or being able to see their GP, nor should they have to accept that they may spend hours on a trolley waiting to be treated. Similarly, staff working in hospitals and GP practices across the country should not be facing the daunting prospect of having to care for those patients in these relentlessly pressurised environments.

“This perfect storm is brewing alongside the upcoming general election and politicians should be paying close attention to the fall out of failure to invest in and support our health service for over a decade.”

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