This site is intended for health professionals only

Safe staffing legislation a must ahead of worst-ever winter, urges BMA

by Eleanor Philpotts
7 November 2019

Share this article

Safe staffing legislation for all UK health services should be created by the next government, according to the BMA’s election manifesto. 

Legislation to ensure that individual clinicians are not blamed when the system places them under unmanageable pressure should be put in place, it said. 

The BMA released its manifesto alongside analysis that has shown that over a million patients could be waiting for over four hours at emergency departments this winter, on top of almost a third waiting for treatment on trolleys.

It says this is shaping up to be the ‘worst ever winter’.

The union’s new manifesto for health has also urged political leaders to increase spending on health by 4.1% each year; get rid of the ‘punitive’ pension tax system for the NHS, which it describes as ‘driving senior doctors out of the workforce’; and ‘pay doctors fairly in a way that truly values our medical workforce and helps to retain staff’.

Announced the month before the general election on 12 December, the manifesto also called for:

  • Healthcare prevention, with the BMA urging ‘stronger action on smoking, alcohol misuse, physical inactivity and poor diet’,
  • Letting the public have the final say on any Brexit deal.

The need to ‘put the NHS on a sustainable long-term footing’ was also reiterated, in the run-up to the system’s anticipated ‘worst-ever’ winter.

‘Enough is enough’

BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘Enough is enough. Right across the health service, trusts and GP practices will be bracing themselves for what looks set to be the worst winter the NHS has ever endured.

‘Patients should not fear needing hospital care or being able to see their GP, nor should they have to accept that they may spend hours on a trolley in an emergency department, waiting to be treated.’

He added: ‘Similarly, staff working in hospitals and GP practices across the country should not be facing the daunting prospect of having to care for those patients in these relentlessly pressurised environments.’

Dr Nagpaul also stated how ‘Brexit and health are two clear priorities for the UK voting public’ and that from aspects like addressing Brexit-related medicine shortages, the damaging impact of pension taxation policies driving doctors out of the profession, and cuts to public health, the Manifesto for Health is the ‘blueprint from which the NHS can grow and thrive’.