Budget: ‘Chancellor must keep his Covid-19 funding promises’

Author: Mark Gould

The British Medical Association (BMA) says that it is “vital” that  the chancellor keeps his promise to give NHS whatever resources it needs to cope with Covid-19.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £5bn emergency response fund to support the NHS fight against Covid-19  promising “whatever it needs, whatever it costs , we stand behind our NHS”.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said that whether this means millions or billions of pounds, “this offer must come with no limits or catches”.

In terms of spending the £5bn Dr Nagpaal said it was vital that the government listen to frontline clinicians, who are in the best possible position to advise.

“It must be spent where it’s needed most – whether this means extra bed capacity in hospitals, more equipment and support in GP practices, further resources for testing, or systems to ensure frontline staff are protected, including the technology for remote consultations in what are likely to be exceptional circumstances.

“We know that the NHS is vastly understaffed, and short-term rescue measures won’t remedy this immediately. You cannot simply buy doctors and nurses, nor can we rely only on the goodwill of our dedicated NHS staff, who are already working incredibly hard in a health service is under severe strain. For patients to be able to have the best care possible, the NHS must support its staff to provide that care as well as paying for more equipment and facilities.”

Royal College of GPs president Professor Martin Marshall welcomed the investment and said it is essential that a “significant share” of the emergency funding is made available for GPs on the frontline of patient care.

"We need this urgently to ensure that all GPs and their teams have the appropriate PPE protection for face-to-face consultations, as well as the high quality technology that will enable remote consultations to take place.

"We should pay tribute to the GPs and their teams who, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis, are going above and beyond to deliver the 'business as usual' of seeing over one million patients a day."

Saffron Cordery the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers which represents NHS trusts said the additional £5bn was “very welcome”. “We are pleased to see this commitment to helping the NHS manage the outbreak and inevitably trusts are incurring significant additional costs.”