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BMA: ‘We are extremely concerned about the inaccurate analysis of the pressures on A&E’

Dear Sir,

The BMA is extremely concerned about the overly simplistic, inaccurate analysis of the huge pressures on accident and emergency departments being promoted by the Government over the past few days. A clear message is emerging, highlighted in advance media coverage of the speech you are due to make at today’s Age UK conference, that you lay responsibility for these pressures with GPs.

In reality, the causes of the very real increased pressures are complex and not fully understood. Out-of-hours primary care will form part of the picture - we have been lobbying for many years for the ability and resource to make improvements and GPs remain very much key providers of urgent care during the weekends and evenings. But the current pressures will also be due to rising demand on the NHS, unmatched by increasing resources, insufficient staffing in A&E departments and bottlenecks elsewhere in the hospital system, as well as the bungled introduction of the NHS 111 urgent care service in many areas.

We welcome Sir Bruce Keogh’s review of urgent and emergency care and hope it will consider resourcing and co-ordination across the whole health service. We all want to see the provision of timely, effective and appropriate high quality medical care. Where this is failing we must work together to identify the causes and solutions rather than point the finger unfairly at health care professionals, the vast majority of whom who are providing a high quality service to their patients in the face of hugely increased demand and real-terms reductions in resources.

We would very much like to meet with you urgently to discuss how the medical profession can work with the government and others to find a constructive way forward.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Mark Porter

Chair of BMA Council

Dr Laurence Buckman

Chair of the BMA’s GP Committee

Dr Paul Flynn

Chair of the BMA’s Consultant Committee