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BMA condemns ‘political choice’ not to tackle ‘intolerable’ pressure on NHS | NHS

by Ozva Admin
BMA condemns ‘political choice’ not to tackle ‘intolerable’ pressure on NHS | NHS

The pressure on the NHS is “intolerable and unsustainable”, the doctors said, amid warnings that the deaths of up to 500 people every week could be caused by delays in emergency care.

It comes after more than a dozen National Health Service Trusts and ambulance services declared critical incidents over the festive period, with officials citing rising flu cases and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic among reasons for the pressure on the health service.

Professor Phil Banfield, chairman of the board of the British Medical Association (BMA), criticized both the prime minister and the health secretary. Highlighting the magnitude of the crisis facing health workers, he called the government’s decision not to negotiate with doctors a “political choice” that is leading to patients “dying unnecessarily.”

“The current situation in the NHS is intolerable and unsustainable, both for our patients and for hard-working staff who are desperately trying to keep up with incredibly high levels of demand,” he said.

“The BMA has repeatedly invited the government to sit down and talk about the pressures on our health service, but their silence is deafening.

“It is disingenuous for the prime minister to talk about ‘supporting the NHS’ in his new year message, when his own health secretary is not discussing how this crisis can be solved.” He called on the government to “step up and take immediate action” to resolve the crisis.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine also duplicate about his claim that between 300 and 500 people die every week as a result of delays and problems in urgent and emergency care, and warned against any attempt to “discredit” the figure.

Ian Higginson, vice president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “What we have been hearing in recent days is that the current problems are due to Covid or they are all due to flu, or that this is complex, you shouldn’t jump to conclusions, that kind of thing.

“If you are on the front lines, you know that this is a long-standing problem. This is not something in the short term. The sort of thing we see happen every winter, and it still seems to come as a surprise to the NHS.”

Last week, one in five ambulance patients in England waited more than an hour to be handed over to A&E crews. NHS Trusts aim for 95% of ambulance handovers to be completed within 30 minutes and 100% within 60 minutes.

In November, 37,837 patients waited more than 12 hours in the emergency room before making a decision to be admitted to a hospital department, according to figures from England’s NHS. This is an increase of almost 355% compared to the previous November, when the figure was 10,646.

Higginson added that the Royal College of Emergency Medicine figures on deaths caused by delays were more than an “estimate”. “These are real numbers, and I am concerned that we will hear attempts to misrepresent and manipulate this data and discredit it. I think if we hear that, we have to say, ‘No, that’s a twist.’”

The figure was disputed by some health chiefs, with England’s NHS chief strategy officer Chris Hopson saying he did not “recognise” that estimate.

“We must be very careful about jumping to conclusions about excess mortality and its cause without a full and detailed review of the evidence, which is now underway,” he told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme.

On Monday morning, Education Minister Robert Halfon said Rishi Sunak was treating the issue as a “top priority” but conceded more needed to be done.

“The government is putting [in] lots of funding and doing everything possible. We know of course that many of these problems have been caused by the pandemic and the pressures on the NHS that we have seen in recent years.”

But Banfield warned that patients would die due to the current state of the health service. “The government must fulfill its obligations to the public. It is simply not true that this country cannot afford the cost of solving this mess. This is a political choice and patients are dying needlessly because of that choice.”

The Liberal Democrats called on the government to recall parliament over the crisis. Party health spokeswoman Daisy Cooper said: “This is a life and death situation for a large number of patients. The NHS is collapsing before our eyes, while the prime minister and health secretary are nowhere to be seen.

“This is a national crisis and the country will never forgive the government if it refuses to recall parliament while hundreds of people are dying in parked ambulances or hospital corridors. No one should lose a loved one because the government was asleep on the job.”

Tim Cooksley, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said the current situation in emergency departments was “unbearable” and would remain so without significant change.

“Unless we engender a belief among both NHS staff and our patients that things will get better, and unless we can retain and then attract colleagues and recruit new colleagues, our situation will remain unbearable for a long time to come.”

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