Hospital doctors have warned Theresa May that the NHS "will fail" this winter and patient care will suffer unless she provides an emergency cash injection.
The leaders of 33,000 doctors from 30 medical specialties urged the prime minister to recognise that hospitals are "paralysed by spiralling demand" and warned of an exodus of personnel quitting the already understaffed NHS. In a letter to May, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and a host of senior doctors told her that the NHS is trying to tackle so many problems with such limited resources that it is in danger of not being able to do its job of caring for patients.
"The NHS is the embodiment of your view that 'We have a responsibility to one another'. Without urgent investment, the NHS will fail to live up to this responsibility this winter," they say. The signatories include Prof Jane Dacre, the college's president, as well as experts in cardiology, geriatric medicine and acute medicine.
In a direct challenge to May's repeated view that the government has given the NHS enough money, they claim that only an urgent bailout will stop the service - which experts say is under pressure like never before in its 69-year history - running into even more serious difficulties. They welcome the pledges to train more doctors and increase the NHS's budget by 2020.
But they say: "Frontline staff and managers across health and social care are clear: investment levels are not sufficient to meet current or future patient needs. As a result, in spite of rapid advances in clinical care, services are often too paralysed by spiralling demand to transform and modernise. Promises of future investment will not address the very real challenges we face going into 2017: the time to invest is now."
Downing Street declined to respond to the letter, but May has told Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, that the service will not get any extra money and that he should concentrate on making major efficiency savings. The Department of Health replied on May's behalf, but did not respond to the RCP's plea for an immediate cash boost or warning that the NHS could fall.
Source: The Guardian