British Medical Association Chief Warns That “Budget Cuts” Will Reduce NHS’s Operations
Despite ConDem promises to “ring fence” spending on the National Health Service, it is inevitable that budget cuts will force many health trusts to stop providing some services to the public.
This warning was sounded by the British Medical Association’s central consultants and specialists committee chair, Mark Porter, at a conference of medical academic representatives in London last week.
“Consultant leaders have warned that service cuts will be strongly resisted if they are not backed by enough evidence,” said a press release issued by the BMA.
“The London conference heard debates about how the NHS could adapt to maintain or improve the quality of patient care in spite of reduced funding in coming years.”
Dr Porter was quoted as saying that “pressure to achieve up to £20 billion of efficiency savings by 2014 meant NHS trusts in England were compiling lists of treatments to be decommissioned or reduced.
“It is clear to me that this cannot be achieved by a few efficiencies and by creative accounting, but it is an inevitable conclusion that we will have to stop doing some things that our patients value,” Dr Porter said.
“Already, NHS commissioners are drawing up lists of health interventions that must be decommissioned.
“These lists are clothed in the language of evidence, but they represent target reductions based on cost and volume, sometimes ignoring the potential benefit to individual patients.
“In the quest for wholesale reductions in budgets, lists of banned treatments are being compiled. This is wrong,” Dr Porter said in the BMA statement.
The conference agreed that any changes must follow the Central Consultants and Specialists Committee’s principles stating that any reconfiguration of services “must be evidence-based, clinically led in partnership with patients, safe, and likely to maintain or enhance standards of care.”
Dr Porter called on consultants to “go back to your hospitals and prepare to protect patient services.”
Procedures which have been targeted for cuts include hernias, joint replacements, ear and nose procedures, varicose veins and cataract surgery.
The NHS has been told to make savings of at least £600 millionwhile at the same time, the ConDem government has committed itself to increasing the foreign aid budget to £13 billion per year.
* Meanwhile, it has been announced that 4000 NHS jobs are to be cut in Scotland as a result of the budget squeeze.
The cuts will include more than 1500 nursing and midwifery posts and at least 68 doctors.