BMA ‘Utterly Dismayed’ as Health and Care Bill Passes Without Workforce Guarantees

Responding to the Health and Care Bill for England being passed with no further amendments after, despite numerous challenges, peers accepted that the Government was not going to move – meaning it will now become an Act of Parliament –

BMA council deputy chair Dr David Wrigley said:

“The BMA has said consistently that this is the wrong bill at the wrong time, which completely fails to address the main problems the NHS and our members are facing: too few resources, a crisis in social care and crucially, a huge shortfall of staff.

“While we have seen some concessions from the Westminster Government – responding to our calls for greater protection from private providers influencing commissioning decisions via membership of NHS decision-making bodies, and safeguards to help prevent undue political interference in the running of local health and care services – we are utterly dismayed that ministers have ultimately failed to listen to frontline workers and demonstrate its commitment to safely staff the NHS and care services.

“More than 100 expert health and care organisations, Royal Colleges, charities and think tanks, as well as MPs and peers from across the political divide, supported amendments that would have held the Government legally accountable for providing regular assessments over the staffing numbers that we need now and in the future. The BMA estimates that England is already short of more than 45,000 doctors, and without a transparent, nationwide stocktake, it is impossible to plan for the future.

“Throughout the Bill’s journey, peers and MPs have expressed their dismay at the Government’s refusal to accept the amendments and provide these assessments, forcing further scrutiny of their failure to commit to ensuring we have enough staff to meet the health and care needs of our growing population.

“We are therefore forced yet again to ask: what does the Government have to hide?

“Having missed this vital opportunity to prove how seriously they take the safe staffing of the NHS and social care, it will be ministers who have to answer when patient care continues to suffer.

“As the Bill now becomes an Act we will continue to campaign for a publicly funded, publicly provided and publicly accountable NHS that gets the investment it needs, is properly staffed and protects the health and wellbeing of its workers so they are able to provide the high quality and timely care that patients deserve.”