In his New Year’s Message, Dr Porter stated that ‘post-truth’ politics are infecting the NHS, with the government in denial of the “obvious” funding deficit.
Oxford Dictionaries chose ‘post-truth’, defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’ as its Word of the Year 2016, following the EU referendum and the election of Donald Trump as US president.
Dr Porter said that STPs, proffered as the solution to the NHS deficit, had “revealed a health service that is in fact unsustainable without urgent further investment, and with little capacity to ‘transform’ in any meaningful way other than by closing services on a drastic scale”.
The South West London and Lincolnshire STPs are among those containing plans to close local hospitals. NHS Improvement has also already warned that the requests for new capital in the STPs ‘exceed what is available’.
Dr Porter explained that the BMA considered that the draft STPs failed to meet its objectives of being realistic and properly funded and prioritising patient care, and predicted that they would lead to £26bn health and social care cuts.
He added: “STPs are meant to bring health and social care together, and in a grim kind of way they do. It is clear from many STPs that each is desperately trying to prop up the other, their crutches cracking under the weight.”
Dr Porter cited the rise in delayed transfers of care as an example of the growing and inter-related problems in health and social care.
He urged the government to accept that it will “get the health service it is willing to pay for”, and avoid damaging NHS workforce morale by ignoring their concerns.
The latest Autumn Statement was widely criticised for ignoring pleas for more health and care funding.
Dr Porter also accused health secretary Jeremy Hunt of an “unprecedented” squandering of goodwill by imposing an unpopular contract on junior doctors, and overlooking the contribution the health service’s “wonderful diversity” brings by promising to make the NHS self-sufficient in doctors.