Health

Government 'chasing headlines on NHS', says doctors' union

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Image caption The doctors' union has been at odds with Jeremy Hunt over plans for seven-day working

Ministers have been "chasing headlines" instead of tackling the real issues facing the NHS in England, according to the doctors' union.

The BMA has published a scathing review of the government's first 100 days in office.

It says ministers' main focus has been alienating doctors instead of dealing with the real problems of the NHS.

The government says the BMA's attack shows it is out of touch with what is happening in the health service.

The BMA says ministers, in their first 100 days in office, have made a series of headline-grabbing announcements, but serious question remain unanswered.

These include how the deficit facing the NHS in England will be tackled, and how the crisis in the recruitment and retention of staff will be addressed.

The doctors also criticise the government for a lack of details about how its plans to increase hospital services will match its desire for a seven-day NHS.

'Rhetoric not detail'

BMA council chair Dr Mark Porter said that describing the government's performance as a disappointment would be "a gross understatement".

"The first 100 days have been characterised by a focus on rhetoric at the expense of detail," he said.

"We have seen no detail on how the £22bn black hole in NHS finances in England is going to be closed, no definition about seven-day services, and an apparent intention to water down safeguards for patients and doctors.

"The public has been treated to a slew of unrealistic headline-grabbing promises of thousands more GPs, but no detail," he added.

War of words

Relations between the doctors' union and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt hit a new low following his announcement in July that he was prepared to impose seven-day working on hospital doctors in England.

In a statement the Department of Health in England hit back at the BMA's claims.

"The BMA's opposition to seven-day services shows how out of touch they are with patients, and this new diatribe tells us how out of touch they are with what the government has already achieved," the department said.

"They must have missed the prime minister setting out our ambition for a seven-day NHS, the chancellor pledging an extra £8bn a year for the service by 2020, the secretary of state's new deal for GPs, plus the approval of new vaccines to protect our children and historic new funding for mental health services."

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