Election campaigning on NHS does not reflect reality, says BMA chair

‘Warm words’ about the NHS during the Holyrood election campaign do not reflect the reality on the front line, chair of doctors’ union BMA Scotland Dr Lewis Morrison has said.

It comes as a recent BMA survey of 650 doctors in Scotland showed 37 per cent were suffering from depression, anxiety, stress, or other mental health condition relating to their work or study.

Some 40 per cent said their health and wellbeing is worse than during the first wave of Covid cases, and almost 60 per cent were not confident that their practice or department will be able to cope with patient demand as NHS services are resumed.

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Over a third said their employer had not discussed planning recovery of services and clearing patients backlogs with them, and 58 per cent said they think it will take more than a year to clear waiting lists of people whose elective treatments were put on hold during the pandemic.

Inside the Covid ICU unit at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary

Dr Morrison called for politicians to avoid “overpromising” on the NHS during this election, as health is such a high-profile issue during the pandemic.

“While some may suggest we are fighting a somewhat futile cause in the face of politicians

determined to grab attention and votes, we’ll keep pushing on this, as we know how important it is for all of us working in the NHS at the moment,” he said

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Dr Lewis Morrison, chair of BMA Scotland.

“The simple assumption that it will be possible to simply go back to normal – or catch up in some way rapidly – just does not reflect the reality of the impact Covid has had on our NHS and the people who work in it.”

The Covid-19 pandemic is still causing backlogs, Dr Morrison said, coupled with the fact that staff are burned out after such a difficult year.

“We cannot just flick a switch and return to the way we used to work (even if that was desirable) – for two key reasons,” he said.

“First the approach of minimising the risk of passing on infections will need to continue for some time yet, [...] secondly – NHS staff are exhausted. They have been through what for many will have been the most challenging year of their career.

“Without building in a chance for staff to recover, there is simply no way our NHS can recover.”

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