DAUK co-ordinates open letter from 2000 doctors to Boris Johnson ahead of the Queen’s Speech

On the day of the general election results DAUK wrote to Boris Johnson with our key priorities for the NHS and the medical profession. The letter was signed by over 2000 doctors and DAUK members and published this morning in The Daily Mirror.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror DAUK Chair Dr Rinesh Parmar said:

”“The NHS must not be sidelined by this government who’s only priority during this election campaign seems to have been “Getting Brexit Done”. This government must take heed of repeated warnings from doctors which so far have been ignored. We are already in the midst of the worst winter crisis for the NHS yet. On the Conservative’s watch we have seen record waiting times, in A&E, for elective surgery or for a GP appointment as vacancies for frontline staff reach 100,000. Ultimately, it is our patients who suffer, and just this week DAUK were shocked to learn that 5,449 patients died as direct result of their long wait in the Emergency Department. This is absolutely unacceptable. The Conservative government must take some responsibility the damage they have inflicted on the NHS and work with frontline doctors who are saying loud and clear that without urgent action, the NHS will not recover from what is quickly becoming an all-year-round crisis.”

The letter in full reads:

Dear Mr Johnson,

The NHS is on its knees. This election has primarily focused on Brexit, and doctors have watched on with dismay as the crisis affecting the NHS has been sidelined. Just this morning we saw the worst ever performance data for A&E waiting times published, with just 81.4% of patients waiting less than 4 hours in NHS Emergency Departments. The publication of these figures, which also include a record low performance in cancer treatment and elective surgery waiting times, were delayed due to the general election. This comes as a report finds that 5,449 patients have died in the past three years as a direct result of long waits in A&E.

This is unacceptable. Whilst The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) must congratulate you on your re-election, the Conservative government must now urgently address the damage inflicted on the NHS by years of under-funding. Doctors are working themselves into the ground to keep the NHS afloat as we continue to haemorrhage frontline staff due to the conditions we are working in. This cannot continue. Without immediate change, the Conservative party will fail once again to deliver on its pledge to increase the number of doctors and nurses in the NHS, in particular the pledge to deliver 6000 more GPs.

We are therefore calling on the Conservative government to commit to the pledges made to the NHS during this general election, and to take urgent action to address a growing recruitment and retention crisis in the UK medical profession, before it is too late.

We urge you in the strongest terms to reaffirm commitments made in your manifesto and:

• Increase NHS funding-we do not believe your commitment goes far enough, and urge that the NHS budget must be increased by over 4% a year in order to repair the damage to our NHS. We are concerned that your pledge amounting to 3.1% a year will not be enough to maintain the status up and to stop the NHS deteriorating further.

• Increase social care funding by £4 billion a year. Without this you will not be able to prevent further cutbacks, protect the most vulnerable in our society or alleviate pressure on our NHS hospitals.

• Reintroduce the student nurse bursary in full recognising that the government’s decision to remove it resulted in a drop of 40% of applications to study nursing and contributed to record nursing vacancies of 43,000. This must also be accompanied by the reinstatement of the payment of nursing tuition fees by Health Education England which was abolished by the Conservative government alongside bursaries in 2016.

• Work with DAUK and other representative organisations to implement an NHS visa to help us recruit doctors and nurses from overseas into the NHS who are often prevented from doing so due to Home Office bureaucracy.

• End unfair hospital parking charges for patients and staff. We strongly believe that this should be extended to all staff, not just those working night shifts.

• Establish a cross-party consensus on the NHS.

To address the NHS staffing crisis we additionally urge you to:

• Give EU doctors, healthcare professionals and medical students working and studying in the UK permanent residence status post-Brexit. We desperately need them.

• Scrap the unfair immigration surcharge for those coming to the UK to work in the NHS. 1 in 4 doctors come from overseas, without them the NHS would collapse. NHS staff coming from abroad already contribute a huge amount to our NHS through their service and commitment to the NHS.

• Immediately address the pensions tax crisis which is leading to spiralling wait times as consultants and GPs are forced to drop their hours. Although you have committed to an urgent review on the taper within the first 30 days of Parliament, we believe that ship has sailed. Doctors have been abundantly clear time and time again that this can only be resolved by abolishing the punitive annual allowance and the taper.

• Commit to a series of above inflation pay rises to address the sustained real terms cuts to NHS staff pay after years of pay restraint.

• Support the DAUK’s call for mandatory national monitoring of physician suicides.

• Address the blame culture by removing the power of the GMC to take doctors to court to have them erased from the medical register, and commit to reviewing the law on gross negligence manslaughter to ensure healthcare professionals are not prosecuted for honest mistakes working in an under-resourced system.

As an Association representing both doctors and medical students, we feel it is vital that you hear the voices of frontline doctors and grassroots organisations. It is imperative you work with us on implementing the above policies. Doctors, as patient advocates, will be watching, and will ensure you are held to account.

The Conservative Party must now strive to regain the trust of NHS staff, and our patients, and repair our damaged relationship with this government. The NHS needs to be a key priority going forward from today. Without urgent change, the NHS will not recover from the worst winter crisis yet.

Yours Sincerely,

Dr Rinesh Parmar