Scottish doctors warning over a profession ‘pushed to the brink’

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Doctors warn Scottish Government to ‘listen and respond’

Just three per cent of Scottish doctors believe the NHS is adequately resourced, according to a BMA survey that reveals a profession “pushed to the brink”.

In a stark warning about the future of the health service the survey also found that almost nine out of ten doctors believe that without a significant funding increase the NHS will be unable to offer comprehensive care within a decade.

Peter Bennie, the chairman of BMA Scotland, will reveal the findings of the poll of 1,000 doctors on Tuesday, with a warning to the Scottish Government that it needs to “listen and respond”.

He is expected to tell the annual conference of the doctors’ union in Brighton that while those working north of the border are slightly less negative in their views than in other parts of the UK, Scotland’s NHS must aim higher than the “very low bar” of simply being better than England.

The survey also found that only six per cent of doctors believe there are enough staff working in the NHS to provide quality patient care.

Dr Bennie will say: “The survey results in Scotland demonstrate the stark reality of a profession pushed to the brink. While doctors are delivering high quality care wherever and however they possibly can, we are stretched to the limit of what we are capable of.

“Perhaps we have not quite reached the dire working conditions and morale seen in England, but we are clinging by our fingertips from sliding down a similar path.

“Over the last four years as chair of BMA, it is with dismay that I have seen more and more expected of doctors, with demand and pressures increasing substantially year on year.

“At the same time, pay has been hit in real terms. Vacancies have increased and become harder to fill. It is just not sustainable, for our NHS or for our profession.

“We know from the survey that two thirds of Scottish doctors who responded think resources are inadequate and this is significantly affecting the quality and safety of care, while 71 per cent feel that overall NHS services have worsened in the last year. Nine out of ten Scottish doctors say staffing is simply not adequate to provide quality patient care.”

He will claim that doctors are being prevented from doing their best by an “under resourced and under staffed system”, with urgent action needed at “all levels of government.”

Dr Bennie is also expected to repeat calls for the SNP to end its “obsession” with a narrow range of targets that “reveal little about outcomes for patients and lead to a culture of blame and political pressure”.

Miles Briggs, Scottish Conservative health spokesman, said doctors had put up with more than a decade of SNP mismanagement, and worked exceptionally hard to keep problems at bay.

He added: “This is why it’s so essential we properly fund General Practice, something we’ve been calling on for years. That would help GPs in their everyday work, and take the strain off other parts of the health service in the process.”

Shona Robison, the Health Minister, said the NHS faced the welcome challenge of “meeting the changing needs of the people of Scotland, with people living longer and driving rising demand”.

She added: ”Our investment has taken NHS funding to record high levels, and we continue to push the UK Government to deliver a net benefit to Scotland’s budget following their recent NHS funding announcement.”

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