Abandon the Health Services – it looks as if Mark porter’s letter to BMA members will be ignored

Politicians are distracted. They are, by neglect, abandoning the Health Services – so it looks as if Mark porter’s letter to BMA members will be ignored. But I am sorry Mark, there is no NHS, which is partly why there is no concerted, National, response.

In calling today for a general election, the prime minister refers more than once to the ‘national interest’.

The BMA is not a partisan organisation, and has never given its support to any political party.
But as doctors, we have a long-established view on what constitutes the ‘national interest’. And I think the vast majority of us would agree that this includes a health service that is well run and properly resourced, and does not have to lurch from one crisis to the next.
But as doctors, we have a long-established view on what constitutes the ‘national interest’. And I think the vast majority of us would agree that this includes a health service that is well run and properly resourced, and does not have to lurch from one crisis to the next.

As to which party is the best at delivering that health service, that’s a matter for you and you alone at the ballot box. But our job in representing doctors is to ensure that the health service is a central issue in the election campaign over the seven weeks between now and 8 June.

There was a time when we could take this for granted. Healthcare has always been a political issue, although sometimes not in the way we would have chosen. Just as hard cases make bad law, a politicised row over a single patient’s treatment, as we have seen in some general elections, achieves little overall.

General elections are the moment when the overall direction of our state is set, how we define and fund public services in the UK, for up to five years. But this election could all too easily become the ‘Brexit election’, and little else, at precisely the time when the health service in which we work is under unprecedented stress and needs the unrelenting focus of politicians from all parties to rescue it.

We are seeing the organisations in which we work being pushed into intractable deficit, treatments rationed and access-time promises shelved. They are the unmistakeable signs of an NHS at breaking point.

We have seen consecutive governments in denial about the state of the health service, and when it comes to elections they have treated it as little more than a political football. Our health and social care systems can simply no longer cope without urgent and coherent action.

Patients want, vote for, and deserve better. We need politicians of all parties to stop ducking the crisis and come up with credible and sustainable plans for safeguarding the future of the health service. When it comes to securing the health of our nation, there could hardly be a stronger national interest.

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This entry was posted in A Personal View, 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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