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MPs again reject Health Bill workforce amendment despite Lords’ backing

MPs again reject Health Bill workforce amendment despite Lords’ backing

By Costanza Potter
28 April 2022

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Healthcare staff have been led to ‘despair’ after MPs have again rejected a Health and Care Bill amendment mandating Government transparency on the NHS workforce, the BMA has said.

The amendment, which would have ensured the Government published regular independent reports on workforce numbers, was voted through by the House of Lords last month and backed by around 100 organisations, including the NHS Confederation.

But MPs later rejected the proposal when 243 Conservative MPs voted the idea down. 

Now the House of Commons has again rejected a redrafted version of the amendment with 278 votes to 182, following a review.

The newer version was designed to take into account earlier concerns raised by the Government, for example by requiring the publication of workforce assessments every three years rather than two.

BMA council deputy chair Dr David Wrigley said: ‘Frontline health and care workers will despair at the Government’s now repeated refusal to demonstrate its commitment to safely staff our hospitals, GP practices and other health and care services.  

‘Any doctor or colleague will tell you that the NHS is desperately understaffed – as will patients who also bear the brunt of long waits and staff shortages.’

He added: ‘Without a shared national picture of the numbers of staff we need, now and in the future, we won’t know whether we are training enough healthcare staff to meet the needs of the population. 

‘It is incredibly simple, yet the Government continues to refuse to commit to producing such an assessment.’

The BMA has urged peers ‘not to let this issue drop’ as the Bill returns to the House of Lords today, Dr Wrigley said.

MPs had previously voted against a similar amendment to the Bill proposed by former health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

This story first appeared on our sister title, Pulse.

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