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BMA attacks budget failure to tackle NHS funding and alcohol-related harm

The BMA has condemned the government’s lack of action to tackle ‘crippling’ NHS funding shortfalls in today’s budget and scrapping of the alcohol duty escalator.

BMA council chair Mark Porter said: ‘Despite claiming the economy is on the up, today’s budget does nothing to address the crippling funding shortfall in the NHS. While the government claims the NHS budget is protected, in reality it has suffered £20bn of cuts, billions of which have come from a sustained attack on staff pay.

The BMA welcomed the budget announcement to continue to escalate duty on tobacco by 2 per cent above inflation. However, it said the government had failed to make any significant effort to reduce alcohol-related harm by scrapping its duty escalator and cutting 1p off the price of a pint of beer.

BMA board of science chair Baroness Sheila Hollins said, that while the continued duty on tobacco was welcome, more action was needed to tackle public health issues. She commented: ‘The government is giving with one hand and taking with another, with a step forward on measures to reduce smoking but backward on tackling alcohol-related harm.’

‘Scrapping the alcohol escalator and reducing beer duty, coupled with the government’s U-turn on plans to introduce a minimum unit price, shows the government has abandoned any serious efforts to tackle alcohol-related harm.’

Baroness Hollins confirmed the BMA would continue to call on the government to introduce a minimum price per unit of alcohol of 50p.

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