British Medical Association leaders have called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond to increase funding for the NHS in the forthcoming budget.
The BMA believes that the level of investment in the British healthcare system should match that of the ten leading economies in the European Union.
Raising NHS funding to 10.4% of GDP – in line with average spending in Europe’s 10 leading economies – would deliver an extra £10.3 billion annually to the health service based on 2015 figures.
The BMA states that Britain currently spends in the region of 9.8% of GDP on the healthcare system.
Increasing spending by £3 billion would pay for an additional 10,000 GPs, with still funding left over to improve hospital premises and hire additional primary care professionals.
This is considered particularly important given the perilous state of general practice.
And further monies made available by the revenue increase could result in an increase in hospital capacity of 35,000 beds, while previous public health funding cuts could also be reversed.
“Conscious underinvestment in the health service – not mismanagement by front-line clinicians or managers – is responsible for the extreme pressures facing the health service,” BMA chair Dr Mark Porter wrote in a letter to the chancellor on Monday.
And following a strongly attended march in London, Porter warned that the situation in the NHS currently is untenable.
“The crisis currently facing the NHS and social care is well known and becoming increasingly severe – the government cannot remain a bystander any longer. An entire system under such strain is not due to front-line financial mismanagement, or individual chief executives’ poor decision making, it is due to the conscious underinvestment in our health service.”
Porter also suggest that anecdotal evidence from healthcare professionals is rather damning.
“Our members report that services are truly at breaking point, with unprecedented rising patient demand met only with financial restraint and directives for the NHS and social care to make huge, unachievable savings through sustainability and transformation plans across England. We are not calling for more than other comparable nations, we are simply calling for you to match the average spending of other leading European economies.”
Deputy BMA chair Dr David Wrigley tweeted during Saturday’s NHS March to challenge prime minister Theresa May to deliver better NHS funding.
The government has pointed to an additional £10 billion of NHS funding promised by the authorities.
But there have been question marks over the validity of this figure, with even the Commons Health Select Committee querying it.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbin indeed suggested that the real figure is less than half the £10 billion claim by the government.