Ensure warm words about NHS staff are not hollow promises, BMA Scotland urge
The welfare of NHS staff must be a priority after the Holyrood election and politicians’ praise for frontline workers will be “empty words” without improvements to the health service, the British Medical Association (BMA) Scotland has said.
The doctors’ union has issued a manifesto that also calls for a “national conversation” about the long-term future of the NHS in Scotland, and demands the “obsession with blanket and arbitrary targets” be scrapped in favour of a focus on patient outcomes.
BMA Scotland chairman Lewis Morrison said the NHS’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic “must be synonymous with staff recovery”, as he warned that doctors’ opinions of politicians “are at a very low ebb”.
He cited a BMA Scotland survey of 991 doctors that found almost two-thirds (65%) do not feel that politicians value them, while 46% feel the Scottish Government is not committed to involving the medical profession in decisions about the future of the NHS.
Demanding that health staff are treated better, Dr Morrison wrote in the manifesto: “For years before Covid-19, the health service in Scotland has endured under-resourcing, under-staffing and under-funding.
“Throughout the pandemic we have heard, on an almost daily basis, tributes paid to staff working in the NHS on the front line of the fight against Covid-19.
“The images of MSPs joining in with weekly claps were a regular feature of a Thursday night as we struggled through the first wave.
“We have now reached the time to prove to doctors and all other NHS workers that those weren’t just hollow gestures or empty words. Because right now, doctors’ views of those who run our health service are at a very low ebb.
“The results of our survey made for stark reading. It’s likely this is built on years of warm words, but little real action or honesty from all parties about the NHS, what we ask of it, and how we treat the people who work in it.”
“And let me be clear – the people who work in our NHS, are our NHS.
“As we emerge from this pandemic, we are now presented with a real chance to make a change – and show that the weekly claps and fulsome tributes really did mean something.
“That the incredible commitment and selfless dedication of doctors over the last year may lead to something better in the future: for them and the people they care for.”
The manifesto also calls for a less politicised debate about the health service and its funding.
Dr Morrison added: “If Scotland is truly to get to grips with making the NHS sustainable, then now is the time for a national conversation about its future: what it should provide and how it should be funded.
“We have to be honest about the challenges, realistic about our needs and wants, and consider how much, as a nation, we are prepared to invest in our health and care services.
“We genuinely need to look after healthcare staff better, with a focus on patient outcomes instead of an obsession with blanket and arbitrary targets.
“We need to ensure that staff work in environments in which they feel safe and secure – no-one should go to work feeling anxious, worried, or to be bullied.”
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