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PM ‘disconnected from reality’ when it comes to NHS

BMA chair slams Theresa May’s conference speech

Jo Carlowe

Thursday, 06 October 2016

The chair of the British Medical Council has accused the Prime Minister of being out of touch when it comes to the health service.

Responding to comments on the NHS made by Prime Minister, Theresa May at the Conservative party conference, Dr Mark Porter, chair of BMA council, said:

“There is a real disconnect between the rhetoric of Theresa May’s speech, and the reality facing the NHS. Nothing in today’s speech will address the concerns of patients, the public and frontline NHS staff on how the NHS will rise to the enormous challenges facing it.”

In her speech, Theresa May claimed the Tories were now "truly the party of the workers, the party of the NHS, the party of public servants", and said they had invested an extra £10 billion in the NHS and that more operations were being carried out than ever before. 

“The only party to ever cut spending on the NHS is not this party, it is Labour. That’s what they did in Wales,” Ms May told the conference. 

But Dr Porter lambasted her for failing to mention the financial pressure facing the health service.

“The prime minister claims that performance in the NHS is up, but the truth is that patients are waiting longer, access to services is being hit due to staffing shortages, and morale amongst front-line staff is at a low.

“The prime minister’s speech failed to mention anything on the funding crisis engulfing the NHS. While Theresa May talked about injecting £10 billion of new money into the NHS, our own funding report showed the real increase in health spending is less than half that. As for the rest, for the largest part of the unmet need, the plan relies on what have been called ‘efficiency savings’. We’ve seen what this tired euphemism actually means – they are year-on-year cuts to funding that have driven almost every acute trust in England into deficit. In total, more than £2 billion in deficit, a 20-fold increase in two years.”

Theresa May praised Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, describing him as "one of the most passionate advocates" for doctors and nursing. 

But Dr Porter remained unmoved. He said: “Our health service needs action, not words. We urgently need the government to draw up a long term strategy for the NHS that addresses the fundamental workload and funding challenges that are overwhelming our health service. Failure to invest now will result in a disaster in the future both financially and in terms of patient health and care.”

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