NHS being 'run ragged' by all-year crisis, according to BMA council chairman

Patient safety being compromised by years of underfunding, says Dr Chaand Nagpaul

Monday 25 June 2018 00:32
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Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the BMA’s council chairman
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the BMA’s council chairman

The NHS is being run ragged and experiencing an all-year-round crisis, the British Medical Association council chairman will say on Monday.

Chaand Nagpaul will tell an audience of medics: “The NHS has been systematically and scandalously starved of resources for years. It lacks doctors, it lacks nurses, it lacks beds.”

And he will warn that patient safety is being compromised without extra investment.

The intervention – a keynote speech at the BMA’s annual conference in Brighton – comes just days after Theresa May promised an extra £20bn a year for the health service.

But Dr Nagpaul will claim the windfall is not enough after years of cuts.

He will say that a funding gap still exists between healthcare spending in the UK and that of other European countries.

“It’s not just the channel that separates us from our European neighbours, but a vast funding gap equating to 35,000 hospital beds or 10,000 doctors,” he is to say. “We’re being run ragged.

“A health service of gaps and stopgaps where two out of three juniors report holes in their rota and one third of GP practices have long-term vacancies. It’s the new norm. It’s a new low.

“Does being prepared mean resorting to precipitously cancelling tens of thousands of operations before Christmas due to lack of capacity, adding further delay, anxiety and suffering to patients who have already waited months for an operation?

“Is being prepared having 17,000 acutely sick patients queueing in ambulances outside emergency departments in the first week of January since there was not the space to admit them?”

And he will ask: “Do you remember when winter pressures only happened in the winter? We now have an all-year crisis. Today in Brighton we may be in the midst of summer, but in the NHS it’s still winter.”

The speech will also highlight how some hospitals are now running at 100 per cent bed occupancy – despite safe limits being set at 85 per cent.

It comes as the initial findings from the BMA’s annual online survey of almost 8,000 doctors revealed 74 per cent of those questioned think financial targets override patient care.

Some 76 per cent also claimed waiting times had gone up while just 5 per cent felt staffing levels were adequate. The research further found that 95 per cent of respondents were fearful of making a medical error.

Concluding on Ms May’s cash boost, Dr Nagpaul will say: “It’s crucial that this money is delivered to treat patients and attract and retain staff.”

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