The British Medical Association has organised an emergency conference “to address the crises of funding, staffing and morale” facing the National Health Service.
Doctors will meet on May 3 to discuss mounting financial and workforce pressures “that threaten to undermine doctors, patient safety and the NHS,” the union said.
Further explaining the move, BMA council chair Mark Porter said “doctors from across the UK have called on the BMA to hold a meeting in response to the crisis in funding and capacity in healthcare, and the effect these have on both patient safety and doctors’ ability to help patients”.
“It is time to hear from doctors about the evidence-based solutions needed to protect high-quality patient care,” Porter noted, adding: “This will be an opportunity for doctors to highlight their concerns and outline the necessary solutions.”
The NHS is facing huge pressure as it grapples with surging demand, a lack of funds and growing dissent amongst its workforce.
The latest monthly data from NHS England show that key performance targets - such as A&E wait times - continue to be missed while, on the financial side, it is feared that trusts could be booking an eye-watering overspend of some £2.5 billion by year end.
Gap between demand and capacity
On the primary care side, there is “a significant and growing gap” between demand and capacity in general practice, and the Association is calling for “multi-faceted action” - such as an increase in funding, reducing workload, reducing the regulatory burdens and expanding the workforce - to help alleviate the problems.
Elsewhere, the BMA is currently locked in a battle with the government over its imposition of the junior doctors’ contract, gearing up for another round of strikes that would see the removal of junior doctors emergency care cover for the first time in the history of the NHS.
In the next round of planned action, junior doctors will embark on a full withdrawal of services between 8am and 5pm on Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 April.
According to BMA junior doctors committee chair Johann Malawana, by rejecting a return to the negotiating table ministers are ‘wholly responsible’ for any future industrial action. “It is not too late to avoid further action and end this dispute through talks,” he said.