Happy 2017: …politicians’ ‘persistent, blinkered denial’ – Say no to a post-truth health service

Mark Porter is the eloquent Chairman of the BMA and his robust attitude contrasts sharply with that of the RCGP. In the BMA News his new year message opines: “Say no to a post-truth health service” and the full message is emphatic, but does not recommend overt rationing. The RCGP new year message on 29th December is pathetic: “General practice running on ‘professionalism and goodwill’ to cope with winter pressures, says RCGP”.  Neither the BMA (tough) nor the RCGP (pathetic but honest ) is prepared to open the debate on the underlying ideology of our 4 health services. While this remains things will only get worse and more unequal.. Many in the professions feel there is a conspiracy to kill off the health services… actually it is ineptitude, and ‘persistent, blinkered denial’ .

Image result for parliament agains the people cartoon

Doctors must resist a ‘post-truth’ health service, BMA council chair Mark Porter has warned in his New Year message to members.

Dr Porter writes that an approach that relegates the importance of facts and evidence is harmful to patient care and does nothing to address the long-term sustainability of the NHS.

He cites politicians’ ‘persistent, blinkered denial’ of the grave financial pressures facing hospitals and GPs. The BMA’s analysis of England’s 44 sustainability and transformation plans has uncovered a total of £26bn in cuts to health and social care over the next five years, and yet ministers speak only of efficiency savings or ‘bumps in the road’.

Dr Porter writes that, with social care under intense pressure, thousands of patients are suffering delayed transfers of care, which can threaten both their own health and the ability of hospitals to give them optimal treatment.

His New Year message finds similar pressures across the UK, such as in Northern Ireland, where GPs are considering submitting undated resignations.

An uncertain future for doctors

Dr Porter writes: ‘We need a Government that is willing to own its share of the challenges, not one that is obsessed with owning the headlines.’

He calls on the Government to take responsibility for the damage it has caused to doctors’ morale, and to the thousands of overseas-trained doctors facing an uncertain future after the EU referendum in June.

He points out the many consequences of an under-funded health service, such as the recent report of a five-fold increase in patients waiting for more than four hours after emergency admission.

‘The beds they are waiting for have been taken away in the name of cost cutting and efficiency. According to the OECD, the UK has fewer than half the beds of France and a third of Germany’s, per person – a difference in magnitude that cannot be explained away on definitions.’

 Neglected responsibility

One key area where the Government is neglecting its responsibility is in ‘providing a working environment for junior doctors in which they have confidence’. He says the Government’s decision to impose a contract in England that is opposed by a clear majority of junior doctors is a ‘self-defeating squandering of goodwill on an unprecedented scale’.

Recent surveys from the GMC and Royal College of Physicians had found junior doctors were left demoralised, sleep-deprived and forced to miss essential training.

He said junior doctors working under the contract should use the new system of exception reporting to raise any instance where their actual work varies from what they are scheduled, and paid, to do.

‘This has the potential to be a safeguard and an early warning system, and shock employers or the Government out of any delusions about working hours to which they may succumb. The more that junior doctors use it when their hours are in variance, and report those inconvenient truths, the more effective it will be.’…..

BMA News 13th December 2016 also tells the public: Collapsed hospital merger costs ‘eye-watering’ £10m. Such a sum would have delayed the inevitable in General Practice, but not stopped it happening. The health divide and health inequalities are rising, as those who can afford it go privately.

Neither the BMA nor the RCGP is prepared to open the debate on the underlying ideology. While this remains things will only get worse..

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This entry was posted in A Personal View, Political Representatives and activists, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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