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BMA calls on PM to explain how a seven-day NHS will work

Chair says too many questions remain unanswered

Jo Carlowe

Monday, 05 October 2015

David Cameron must use his Conservative Party speech to explain how a seven-day NHS will work.

This is the call from the British Medical Association, which is urging the Prime Minister to fully set out his plans, and has today published a new advertisement calling for this.

Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, explained: “David Cameron has been clear that he wants to introduce the world’s first truly seven-day NHS but less clear about how he intends to staff and pay for it.

“Last month the BMA published seven questions for David Cameron to answer about his plans.”

The BMA claims Mr Cameron only answered one of these. In responding to a series of parliamentary questions, ministers outlined a definition of seven-day services for the first time, confirming that their plans echo calls from the BMA for the focus to be on the delivery of urgent and emergency care.

“However, there remains a number of unanswered questions and with hospital trusts facing enormous staffing and funding pressures this is simply unacceptable,” said Mr Porter.

He added: “Given the current funding squeeze on NHS Trusts, the only way for many hospitals to increase the number of doctors over the weekend would be to reduce the number of doctors providing elective care during the week.

“It is simply not going to work if the government expects hospitals to stretch the work currently done Monday to Friday over seven days. The fact that hospitals preparing for the introduction of seven-day services require dramatic increases in senior doctors exposes the potential risks to patient care of rushing to make changes with the necessary plans and resourcing in place.”

And he called on Mr Cameron to be "honest" about how the service would be funded.

“It is vital that the prime minister is honest with the public about how he expects to pay and staff a truly seven-day NHS. It is not just doctors wanting answers. A recent public survey showed that two thirds of respondents do not believe the NHS can currently afford seven-day services in hospitals, while three quarters do not want to see a reduction in mid-week services.

“This week provides the prime minister with the perfect opportunity to answer the BMA’s remaining questions. The challenge for him is will he take it and provide the answers that doctors and patients deserve.”

Last month, new research found that less than half of hospital trusts in England had begun work to scope rolling out seven-day services, with a number reporting the need for millions more in funding and a dramatic increase in the number of consultants.

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