By Steve Nowottny
BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum has urged NHS managers to withstand ‘fierce pressure’ to make cuts to local health services, amid fears that budget cutbacks are already hitting patient care.
A survey of 370 GPs by Pulse this week revealed that more than half have already seen cutbacks to local services, including health visiting, phlebotomy, palliative care and mental health – while a further 31% said cuts were in the pipeline.
In a statement issued in response to Pulse’s story, Dr Meldrum said: ‘The financial challenges facing the NHS are considerable but cutting clinical staff or frontline services would be disastrous. During a time of financial difficulty, healthcare becomes more, not less, important.’
‘Managers are under fierce pressure to make savings, but it is unacceptable that important local services are being cut when huge amounts of money have been spent on poor-value contracts with private providers.’
He added: ‘Much more of the focus of politicians should be on doing away with the cost and bureaucracy of an imposed market model on the NHS rather than slashing frontline services.’
Liberal Democrat shadow health secretary Norman Lamb also expressed alarm at the survey’s findings.
‘Despite Labour’s claim that the NHS is being protected, it is quite clear that cutbacks to frontline services are already happening.’
‘This type of panic budget slashing rarely improves services and nearly always costs more money in the long term.’
‘The NHS does need to save money but we should start by cutting back on management, quangos and top-level pay, not cherished local services.’
BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum: Cuts to frontline services would be ‘disastrous’ BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum: Cuts to frontline services would be ‘disastrous’