Private care ‘must not get NHS cash’

By Edie Bourne

Private doctors will have no NHS work to do in private hospitals if policy-making doctors at the BMA get their way.

At the annual meeting of the union in Brighton, a majority of its representatives from all specialties voted in favour of demanding the UK governments block health service cash from being used to pay the independent sector.

They backed a motion from the association’s Islington division calling for the money destined to pay the private sector to do NHS work to be invested instead in expanding NHS capacity.

BMA council deputy chairman Dr David Wrigley said: ‘After the most harrowing two years of their careers, staff are now staring headlong at a further tsunami of work with no back-up. The cavalry is not on the way.

‘And we cannot continue pouring money into expensive contracts with the private sector – dealing with its own Covid-related backlog – to do NHS work, when this would be better spent boosting capacity in the health service itself, something the Health Secretary seems to be ruling out.’

Workforce plan

The meeting backed motions calling for the Government to urgently put in place an NHS workforce plan to tackle the record backlog in care and also demanded the governments invest money to recruit, train and retain staff, and drop unrealistic targets that put ‘impossible pressures’ on employees.

Dr Wrigley observed: ‘Even before the pandemic the length of time people were waiting for the care they needed was too high. But following the huge disruption and added pressure Covid-19 placed on the UK’s health services, waiting lists have now gone up to a perilous level. 

‘We have a record 6.5m people waiting for treatment in England, as well as the significant “hidden backlog” of people who have still to come forward for care after the worst of the pandemic or whose referrals were cancelled.’

He said: ‘We continue to lose doctors to burnout, punitive pension taxation rules and bureaucratic barriers for colleagues from overseas – all areas the Govern­ment can tackle now. If they fail to do so, patients will continue to suffer and the impact on the health of the nation will be devastating.’ 

Dr Wrigley added: ‘Without knowing how many staff are needed to safely deliver services, now and into the longer term, how on earth can the Govern­ment, education and training providers and healthcare leaders plan ahead for the care that patients need?’