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26
Jun

‘Cuts sacrifice jobs and services’


The British Medical Association (BMS) said on Monday that doctors have condemned cuts and moves to ration NHS services.


They expressed concern that the £20bn the NHS has been tasked with ‘saving’ by 2015, under the so-called Nicholson challenge, will mean job cuts and the rationing of clinical services.

They called on the Department of Health to show how these savings are being reinvested in the NHS, as had been promised.

Bristolconsultant psychiatrist Robin Arnold said: ‘Efficiency savings which are not reinvested are cuts. Cutting between 16 and 20 per cent of the [NHS budget]cannot be achieved without cutting frontline services, and getting GPs to be the fall guys for this is unacceptable.’

London GP Louise Irvine told the meeting: ‘We do not have to accept the austerity argument. By cutting jobs and services we suppress, we depress the economy further.’

London consultant urologist Tomas Rosenbaum said cuts were taking place at ‘breath-taking speed’ in west London where Ealing Hospital is facing reconfiguration.

‘Altar of cuts and reconfigurations’

He said: ‘What is happening now is on the altar of cuts and reconfigurations, our hospital will be sacrificed.’

London consultant histopathologist Anne Thorpe pointed out that reconfiguring services did not always mean lower quality care.

She cited the case of the reorganisation of stroke services in the capital into fewer specialist centres, which had caused anxiety beforehand but was now accepted to have improved mortality and morbidity rates.

Doctors and medical students agreed that the current programme of cuts, redundancies and enforced reconfiguration of clinical services would have adverse effects on the delivery of high-quality care to patient, there were risks to the provision of essential services in some geographic areas, and there were risks of departmental and hospital closures.

The meeting also backed a suggestion by Buckinghamshire consultant orthopaedic surgeon Gordon Matthews that should be a single nationwide list of so-called ‘low-priority’ treatments that commissioners who restricted access to them claimed were evidence-based.

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