According to the BMA, the government’s ‘rapid care measures’ will require better availability of resources in order to work
The BMA has warned that resources must be made available for government’s new rapid care measures to be a success.
These measures could see the four-hour A&E wait time target scrapped for the sake of more effectively prioritising urgent needs.
The plan could also see suspected cancer patients receiving a diagnosis within 28 days of referral.
Responding to the announcement, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said:
“The BMA has consistently believed that arbitrary targets can result in unintended impacts on patient care, especially when they are linked to funding.
“For example, when the health secretary reinterpreted the four-hour A&E target in 2017 to include only urgent cases, rather than all attendances, there were concerns that NHS managers simply redefined what cases are ‘urgent’ so that the target can be met and resources secured.
“A recent BMA survey found that 77% of doctors agreed that ‘national targets and directives are prioritised over quality of care’ and 74% agreed that ‘financial targets are prioritised over quality of care’.
“Enabling vulnerable patients with mental health issues to gain easier access to higher standards of care is an encouraging focus of today’s announcement and long overdue.
“It is also important that we should continue to press for diagnosis of cancer to be improved and that any delays in subsequent treatment should be addressed.
“Ultimately, all these proposals must be fully supported by clear commitments to provide the resources necessary so that NHS staff are able to practically deliver any service improvements to patients.
“The health service is still waiting for increased funding for NHS estate buildings, public health and social care. There remains a lack of clarity on how the current workforce shortages are to be remedied, which is of critical importance given the pressures across both secondary care and general practice.
“Any new proposals will struggle to succeed unless the fundamental pressures facing the health service are tackled.
“We must ensure that any change to the target system is accompanied by clear, unambiguous measures to increase transparency – and not reduce accountability or information about how well care is delivered.
“It is vital that the piloting of new standards create a greater culture of openness where we have a true picture of the experience of patients and the challenges facing our health service.
“The BMA will be examining the detail of these proposals in order to guarantee that the public has the ability to hold the government to account.”