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Adequate investment needed to rescue NHS: Chaand Nagpaul


Dr Chaand Nagpaul
Dr Chaand Nagpaul

The chief of one of UK’s leading medical associations has urged prime minister Boris Johnson to ramp up funding for the country’s state-run health service, warning that without adequate investment, the crisis-hit National Health Service will not be sustainable and access to quality care will be reduced to an unacceptable level.

Chaand Nagpaul, the chair of the British Medical Association (BMA), has issued a two-page memo for Johnson, who earlier this month was elected as prime minister after a landslide poll win and had made a commitment to invest in the National Health Service (NHS).

According to The Sunday Times, his memo warns that government”s NHS election pledges will not be enough to rescue it from crisis because there will still be a funding black hole of £6.2 billion a year by 2023-24.

The figure is based on an analysis conducted by the BMA that says an extra 4.1 per cent rise annually in health spending is needed if the NHS is to survive.

The government has said it will raise the funding by 3.4 per cent a year.

“Without adequate investment the NHS will not be sustainable, and patient access to quality care will be reduced to an unacceptable level,” Nagpaul said.

Johnson had vowed during his election campaign to invest heavily in the health service and set out a more detailed agenda last week with a promise to protect in law a £20.5 billion-pound in annual NHS spending by 2023-24.

He has also pledged to deliver a 50,000 net increase in the number of nurses and promised to create 50 million more general practitioner (GP) appointments every year by recruiting an extra 6,000 family doctors.

“While your pledges to increase workforce numbers reflect the dire situation, they fail to reflect the realities of recruitment and the time it takes to train new clinicians,” said Nagpaul, himself a GP based in London.

He warns that a decade of underfunding has resulted in a “dire situation” for the NHS, including hospital bed numbers at a record low and staff working in an “intolerable climate of stress”.

The ruling Conservatives have come under criticism for failure to deliver on a previous pledge in 2015 to recruit an extra 5,000 GPs.

A new post-Brexit NHS visa is among some of the measures announced by Johnson in his new government’s agenda, which is designed to make it easier and more attractive for qualified overseas doctors and nurses from countries like India to be brought in to address the NHS shortages.