BMA decries lack of new NHS resources in Budget

By staff writers
March 16, 2016

One of Britain’s leading medical bodies has expressed real concern about the future of the NHS in England as a result of today’s UK Budget announcement. (16 March 2016). 

Responding to the statement this afternoon from Chancellor George Osborne, Dr Mark Porter, council chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) decried the lack of urgently needed new resources for the National Health Service.

He said: “It is disgraceful given the crisis facing the NHS that there was no promise of extra funding for a health service that is buckling under pressure from rising patient demand, falling resources and staff shortages.

“Hospitals and GP practices around the country are at breaking point and need urgent, extra investment to maintain even basic care to their patients.

“The political rhetoric does not match the reality on the ground of an NHS in crisis. The government’s funding promises have simply not materialised,” Dr Porter declared

Responding to the government’s proposals for a new sugar tax, Baroness Shelia Hollins, BMA Board of Science Chair, commented: “The chancellor’s decision to introduce a new levy on excessive sugar in soft drinks is a welcome step forward.

“This is a move called for in the BMA’s recent ‘Food for Thought’ report.

“It is an important initiative that could help to begin to address the obesity crisis amongst young children, although the delay in introducing it for two years is disappointing.

“More needs to be done to invest in proper preventive measures that protect people’s lives and the public’s resources.”

Baroness Hollis added that “the implementation of minimum alcohol unit pricing is still also badly needed given the billions spent on the impact of excessive alcohol consumption.”

The Scottish Government is seeking to move ahead with minimum alcohol pricing in Scotland, but is facing legal challenges from the wealthy and well organised drinks lobby.

The NHS is also facing pressures north of the border, but the SNP, which polls suggest will be returned to power with an increased majority in the May 2016 Holyrood elections, has pledged year-on-tear real term increases in health spending, having already invested a record amount over the past eight years. 

However, there are real concerns in Scotland over the knock-on consequences of added pressures on health spending in England, and the implications of the kind of fiscal settlement the UK Government wants to impose.

* You can access all Ekklesia's commentary and analysis on the 2016 Budget here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/budget2016

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