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#GPnews: BMA says Government choosing not to prioritise NHS

15:09 BMA chair Dr Mark Porter has commented on the reports that Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) contain plans to cut NHS services. He said this was ’a consequence of a health service which is cripplingly underfunded’.

He said: ‘We’re still seeing hospitals and GP surgeries at breaking point, waiting times too high, crushing pressure on mental health services and cuts to the public health budget. The majority of trusts are in the red and the NHS doesn’t have enough staff or resources to meet demands.’

But he said that ‘it doesn’t have to be like this’, because ‘spending on healthcare is a choice’.

He said: ‘It’s simply a case of how much the Government wants to prioritise the NHS in England.

‘While it’s important for the NHS to be financially stable, we simply cannot do this in a way that risks quality of care and will increase demand in the future. We absolutely do not want to see health funding being diverted to cover shortfalls in other areas.’

‘On the one hand you have the government saying they want to expand services across the week but then trusts are being ask to make plans to scale services back. This just shows the widening gulf between what the government is saying, versus what it is actually doing, with our health service,’ he said.

12:15 study in The Lancet has revealed that there were increased pregnancy rates among girls who took part in teenage pregnancy prevention programmes that use ‘magic dolls’ for simulating parenting. 

The BBC reports that the study, of more than 1,000 teenage girls in Western Australia, found that pregnancy rates among those enrolled in a ’Virtual Infant Parenting’ programme were higher. 

When the girls in the programme were tracked up to the age of 20, 8% had given birth at least once and 9% had had an abortion. This compared to a figure of 4% giving birth among girls who did not take part in the baby simulator programme and 6% having an abortion.

Similar programmes are used in schools in 89 countries, including the US.

8:45 An investigation by the Guardian and pressure group 38 Degrees has revealed that commissioners in England are looking to cut the number of acute hospitals to meet efficiency targets. 

They have seen three of the secret STP plans, and found:

  • In the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland region, there are proposals to reduce the number of acute hospitals from three to two.
  • In the Black Country region of the West Midlands there are proposals to reduce the number of acute units from five to four and close one of two district general hospitals.
  • A reduction in the number of face-to-face meetings between doctors and patients in north-west London through the use of more “virtual consultations” and a proposal to give patients coaching to help them manage their own conditions without seeing a doctor.

Pulse revealed this month that GPs were being left out of discussions around the plans.