Responding to the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) annual assessment of the state of heath and social care in England, released earlier this month, which found that the system is ‘gridlocked and unable to operate effectively’, Professor Philip Banfield, BMA council chair, said:
“This is a notable and timely condemnation from the regulator that oversees all health and care services in the country – which rightly concludes that despite the best efforts of dedicated staff, the system is failing the very people it should be caring for.
“As the CQC itself notes it is nigh-on impossible for staff to provide good care in a gridlocked system, where people cannot be discharged from hospital because there are no care home spaces, or are forced to wait hours on end in the back of an ambulance because A&E is full of people waiting for a bed on a ward. This means ambulances are queuing outside hospitals rather than reaching those in need of immediate life-saving treatment.
“These shortfalls are hitting the poorest communities hardest, further widening the unacceptable health inequalities that we currently have in this country.
“As the report outlines, the mismatch between demand and capacity is down to workforce – with staff leaving due to plummeting morale, and poor pay and working conditions. We need immediate action rather than more dithering on the retention crisis. This must include reversing the real-terms pay cuts doctors have experienced for more than a decade, ending the pension tax trap forcing senior doctors to limit their clinical work or retire early, reducing bureaucratic targets, supporting continuity of care, and investing in services so that staff can deliver the standard of care that patients deserve.
“At a time of severe economic instability and recent threats to cut public spending, reports like this underline the unmitigated disaster it would be to further deprive the NHS and care services of the resources they need – for staff, for patients and for the health and therefore the wealth of the nation.”