Responding to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO), which shows that the funding allocated by Government to reduce long waits for non-urgent NHS care has not risen with inflation, Dr Emma Runswick, deputy chair of council at the BMA, said:
“It’s absolutely essential that the funding Government allocated for tackling the backlog and growing waiting lists from Covid-19 is urgently reviewed. It’s only right that this funding increases in line with inflation, otherwise the recovery plan simply won’t work.
“However, even if Government wrote a blank cheque for the recovery plan, it’s unachievable without the staff to deliver it. As this report rightly points out, chronic pay erosion, punitive pension taxation, and dwindling staff morale are all contributing to a mass exodus of staff – in fact, as of June 2022 there are more than 10,500 medical vacancies in the health service. The suggestion that other parts of the NHS should pick up more work to chip away at the backlog shows a total disregard for the underlying problems in the system and how to go about fixing them.
“What’s clear in today’s report is that, away from the recovery plan, the NHS has been underfunded for too long. Even if the plan’s objectives are met by 2025, this analysis shows that many patients will still be waiting longer than NHS standards. This isn’t acceptable to staff or patients and should cause the Government shame. It’s because of this chronic neglect that we will be feeling the effects of the pandemic for decades, potentially to the point of NHS collapse, if nothing is done to give the health service what it deserves.”