HEALTH: A missed opportunity

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With the NHS facing one of the most challenging periods in its history, the budget announcement has fallen short of what is needed to address the long-term funding problems, which, unfortunately, look set to continue.

In the North East, increasing pressure on services means that many waiting time targets haven’t been met for years, and patients face longer delays to see their GP as the crisis in general practice has left many surgeries struggling to cope.

As Government figures reveal a significant fall in the number of GPs, and three in four medical specialities struggling to fill training places, recruitment and retention should be a priority for the NHS.

Yet the budget offers little solution to this crisis.

The Chancellor’s failure to commit to extra funding for public health issues means that the damaging impact of alcohol, tobacco and poor diet will continue to cost the NHS billions each to year to treat.

Whilst the proposals in the budget will go some way towards easing short-term pressures, this was largely a missed opportunity to prioritise patient care and create the sustainable future the NHS needs.

Dr George Rae

BMA North East Regional Council Chairman