Don’t let May trample on the NHSBMJ 2017; 356 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j305 (Published 19 January 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j305
All rapid responses
This is a letter being circulated and signed by senior clinicians in the NHS. It is a very apt response to this article. So far there are around 2000 signatures and it is increasing. If you are a GP, NHS consultant or Associate Specialist in the NHS, please use the link below and sign and share if you agree. It is time to rise and defend the NHS we trained in. Most of us are not politically-inclined and it is not a political statement but it is confirmation of the crisis from a senior tier. It would be irresponsible to let it carry on spiraling downwards. No matter how much moving around of management, shuffling and centralization of services and changes in contracts, there is simply not enough money in the pot to look after our rising population to the high standards we are trained to provide. If these messages are not heard and acted upon, the senior medical brain drain from the UK will begin.
This is the letter in the link:
Dear Prime Minister,
This letter represents the most senior tier of clinicians in the NHS and has been read and signed by NHS Consultants, Associate Specialists and General Practitioners only. We understand fully that these are times of austerity and the national budget has never been under more scrutiny. However, the rising ageing population and the squeeze on NHS and social care funding are very real. We have reached unacceptable levels of safety concerns for our patients within the NHS and simply cannot continue. This is the letter we hoped we would never have to write.
We treasure and love our NHS. Most of us trained in it and are proud of the core principles the NHS is built upon. Our training programmes and clinical standards are world-class and have shaped those of many other countries. It perhaps takes experiencing healthcare in other countries to appreciate the value of working in a health system that is free at the point of contact: We treat according to medical need and without considering user fees, insurance or indeed any demographic. We want to stay this way. This letter urgently asks you to accept our requests:
1. The spending on Healthcare has to be increased. We urge you to act upon the recent letter sent to you by the chairs of three select committees at the Houses of Commons: (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmcomloc/1701...). In particular we ask you act upon the specific recommendation from the “Barker Commission” asking that a specific ring-fenced budget for social care and the NHS be created from increased public spending.
2. We do not want to privatise our NHS (either seeing patients charged to use it or private companies profiting from it) and we want the public to explicitly hear and acknowledge this. We need to increase the percentage of GDP (to at least 10%) spent on healthcare and match this with the forecasted GDP in the future. It is impossible to provide effective efficient patient-led innovative healthcare which is free at the point of contact when we spend less on healthcare than other comparable OECD countries.
We are constantly failing to meet our own and our patients expectations. We apologise to them and we also empathise with them. We feel handcuffed and paralysed working in this current NHS. We are exasperated and feel demoralised because we are not able to provide and develop the excellent care we were trained to give. We are simply fighting fires on a daily basis. There is a real risk of a brain drain at our level from the UK if this government does not listen to us.
This is not a political statement. Again we reiterate that we represent the most senior tier of healthcare workers and we are writing to you for the first time en masse. Do not ignore this letter and provide a response as soon as possible.
Your senior NHS clinicians
Competing interests: No competing interests