BMA: government has ‘callous disregard’ for NHS

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The government is guilty of ‘callous disregard’ for the NHS and should plug the ‘enormous’ funding gap, the leader of the BMA’s GP committee has said.

Speaking to the 2017 Local Medical Communities conference in Edinburgh, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Chairman of the British Medical Association’s (BMA) GP committee, said the government is ‘turning a blind eye to the spiralling pressures’ affecting the health service.

He said that politicians must ‘end their callous disregard for the health needs of citizens’, adding that the mounting workloads and staff shortages have left practices ‘frighteningly vulnerable’.

Dr Nagpaul said: ‘Far from the pledged investment of an extra £350 million per week, audaciously plastered on double-decker buses, the reality is we’ve been cheated with the opposite: a deep freeze in NHS spend, continued savage austerity cuts and with politicians turning a blind eye to the spiralling pressures affecting the entire health and social care system.’

He added that general practice was on the ‘brink of collapse’, with 1 in 10 practices saying they were unsustainable in a recent BMA survey that highlighted record practice closures and the inability of 1 in 3 practices to fill GP vacancies.

In his keynote speech to the conference, Dr Nagpaul warned: ‘We have a service that is several thousand GPs short due to shambolic workforce planning a decade ago. We are in effect paying the price of disinvestment in general practice at a time of plenty, and are now trying to make up for it at a time of empty.

‘The only solution is for government to increase NHS funding to adequate levels, in which general practice receives a fair and larger share.’

Speaking to the Independent, Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said that the Conservatives had ‘utterly failed’ to support GPs, adding that the party ‘have overseen an unprecedented GP workforce crisis in which ordinary people have suffered, unable to readily access their local service.’

On the same day as Dr Nagpaul’s conference speech, Prime Minister Theresa May will outline the Conservative Party’s plans for the NHS as she launches her party’s election manifesto.