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Government focused on chasing headlines rather than future of NHS, says BMA



The Government’s first 100 days of office has been focused on alienating NHS staff, and chasing headlines promising thousands of more GPs, the BMA has said.

The chair of the BMA, Dr Mark Porter, has launched a weighty attack on the Government’s ‘poor performance on the NHS’ over its first 100 days in office, adding that there are ‘serious questions marks’ behind some of the recent announcements – including how the NHS workforce crisis will be addressed.

As part of Dr Porter’s interrogation of the Government’s performance on the NHS, he also claims that there has been no detail about how the £22bn black hole in NHS finances in England can be reduced, and no definition about the viability of rolling out a seven-day NHS.

Instead of ‘taking urgent action to address the real health and social care issues,’ Dr Porter said, the Government has focused on ‘attacking doctors’ professionalism.’

This attack from the BMA comes after Pulse recently reported that a fifth of GP training places in the UK remain unfilled after two rounds of recruitment – while the Government’s pledge to increase GP access to seven days a week has recently been hit by a slew of pilots across the country scrapping the scheme due to lack of demand.

But the BMA has subsequently been accused by health secretary Jeremy Hunt for being out of touch with its members, claiming he had ‘yet to meet’ a doctor not in favour of weekend working.

However, a petition has since been launched calling for a vote of no confidence in Mr Hunt, after he angered consultants during a speech, in which he threatened to impose his terms for the new junior doctor contract.

‘When it comes to the NHS, to describe the Government’s performance over its first 100 days as a disappointment would be a gross understatement,’ added Dr Porter.

‘The first 100 days have been characterised by a focus on rhetoric at the expense of detail. We have seen no detail on how the £22bn black hole in NHS finances in England is going to be closed, no definition about seven-day services, and an apparent intention to water down safeguards for patients and doctors.

Dr Porter went on to add that the public has been fed ‘unrealistic headline-grabbing promises’ of thousands more GPs, but with no detail on how this pledge can be achieved.

He added: ‘We have also seen a continuation of government policy by press release, U-turns and a lack of transparency. The public has been treated to a slew of unrealistic headline-grabbing promises of thousands more GPs, but no detail.

‘It is also disappointing that the Government continues to claim that it has ‘protected the NHS’ while forcing through economic policies that do it more harm. The chancellor’s decision to cut £200m from the public health budget will leave public health medicine staff having to find deeper cuts and will put back efforts to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing.’