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NHS problems must be tackled in new general election

BMA says NHS crisis must not be avoided as topic for the election

Adrian O'Dowd

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Serious problems in the NHS must be tackled as a crucial issue for debate during the general election set for June, that has been announced today, according to doctors’ leaders.

Prime minister Theresa May announced today that she intends to hold a general election on 8 June, citing the need to challenge opposition she has encountered over Brexit from Labour, the SNP and the Liberal Democrats.

The country’s population needed to have the chance to make its opinion heard over which party it wanted to lead when Brexit negotiations got underway in detail, said Ms May.

“I have only recently and reluctantly come to this conclusion,” she said. “Since I became prime minister, I have said there should be no general election until 2020, but now I have concluded that the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead is to hold this election and seek your support for the decisions I must take.

“It was with reluctance that I decided that the country needs this election, but it is with strong conviction that I say it is necessary to secure the strong and stable leadership that the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond.”

Ms May plans to call a motion in the House of Commons tomorrow so MPs can vote for or against holding an election, but will need to get a two-thirds majority vote for it to be approved.

Shortly after the announcement, BMA council chair Dr Mark Porter called on politicians of all parties to make the NHS a vital part of debate in their campaigning.

Dr Porter said: “Health is always one of the most important issues for the people of this country and with the NHS at breaking point, having been put through one of the worst winters on record, it must be a central issue in the upcoming election. The NHS must not be pushed to the margins in the focus on Brexit.

“Staff have ensured that we still have one of the best health services in the world, but years of underinvestment while patient demand has been rising means that it is now failing too many people, too often.”

Hospitals and GP surgeries were full and social care was “on its knees” he added, saying that staff were working under impossible conditions due to funding and staffing shortages that undermined the delivery of safe care.

“Consecutive governments have been in denial about the state of the NHS and when it comes to elections have chosen to use it as a political football,” he said.

“Our health and social care systems can no longer cope without urgent action. We call on politicians of all parties not to duck this crisis any longer, and instead to outline credible and sustainable plans that will safeguard the future of the fully funded and supported NHS that staff want and patients deserve.”

Picture: Theresa May. Credit: Charlie Bard / Shutterstock.com

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