Exhausted Doctors Seek Respite Before Further NHS Reforms

Priscilla Lynch 

May 17, 2021

The British Medical Association (BMA) has echoed its calls for doctors to be allowed to rest and recover ahead of tackling the backlog of non-COVID care, following last week's Queen's speech to Parliament.

The association further warned that existing NHS funding pledges totalling £1bn will not be enough to cover the cost of meeting what it described as the vast swathes of unmet elective care that have built up during the pandemic.

As well as noting the continuation of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, the Queen's speech highlighted the bringing forward of sweeping legislation reforming the health service as set out in the health and care white paper.

The speech also noted the planned introduction of measures to enable the NHS to innovate and embrace technology, tackle public health issues such as obesity and mental health.

Responding to the speech, however, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul warned against yet another top-down reorganisation of the NHS at a time when its already understaffed workforce was shattered from its struggle against the pandemic.

He added that the Government would need to at least quadruple its current £1bn additional funding pledge, if the health service was to support existing staff and increase recruitment and retention needed to deal with the elective care backlog.

He said: "Giving exhausted staff proper rest and providing much-needed additional resources to make inroads into the record backlog of care left in the wake of the pandemic needs to be the focus right now.

"It is these same staff who will be instrumental in tackling the record-high waiting lists. But we came into the pandemic with an historic workforce crisis, with significantly fewer than our European counterparts, and now a growing number of our members tell us they're planning on leaving the NHS due to the distressing and exhausting experiences of the last year."

References:

Doctors seek respite before further reforms. British Medical Association. 2021 May 13.

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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