The BMA has today unveiled a set of New Year's resolutions for politicians to help them protect the future of the National Health Service (NHS).
Top of the list is a resolution calling on politicians to stop wasting taxpayers' money on unnecessary and expensive commercial sector solutions for the NHS in England. "These scarce resources should be invested in the NHS where they will provide better value for money and help more patients" said Chairman of Council of the BMA, Dr Hamish Meldrum.
He added: "The political parties have been grappling with the current financial crisis and cuts in the public sector are being proposed from 2010 onwards. The BMA is calling on politicians to resist the false economy of making quick savings by cutting front-line NHS services. Instead we urge them to use our resolutions to protect and improve the health service. The government needs to value doctors and invest in their education and training.
"The NHS is currently running at full capacity. Recessions add to the burden on the NHS and the unexpected is always around the corner. The health service needs to be prepared for all eventualities.
"Looking ahead to 2010, the BMA also wants the government to focus on wider public health issues including alcohol misuse, tobacco control and obesity. Dealing effectively with these problems could save millions of premature deaths in the future. We hope this government - and any future government - will adopt our resolutions."
The BMA is urging all parties to make the following New Year resolutions and stick to them:
1. Stop wasting taxpayers' money on poor value contracts between the NHS and private companies
2. Don't cut frontline services, or penalise NHS staff to bail the country out of the financial crisis which was not of their making
3. Safeguard funding for medical research and the education and training of clinical staff
4. Work towards creating a tobacco-free society by 2035
5. Set a minimum price per unit of alcohol and ban all alcohol advertising in the media
6. Support and develop general practice to deliver high-quality care for patients
7. Discourage trusts from cutting the time consultants can spend on initiatives to improve quality, patient safety and cost effectiveness.
8. Don't raise the cap on tuition fees in 2010 - a move which would send the cost of a medical degree soaring and dissuade the less well off to study medicine
9. Address the BMA's serious concerns over the quality and continuity of junior doctors' training.
10. Compel the NHS to lead by example by reducing its carbon footprint
The BMA recently launched its manifesto for the forthcoming Westminster election. In this document, the BMA calls on all political parties:
• to be realistic about what the NHS can deliver
• to recognise that the UK needs investment in health more than ever
• to pursue sound and evidence-based planning of services.
The BMA believes these three principles underpin the New Year resolutions above.