Sajid Javid faces 'baptism of fire' in new role as Health Secretary, BMA council chairman warns

Dr Chaand Nagpaul told Sky News that British Medical Association (BMA) members were “feeling absolutely exhausted after 15 months of this pandemic, many have worked flat-out without breaks”.

New Health Secretary Sajid Javid

He added that “about four in 10 say their mental health is worse than before the pandemic significantly”, with “about one in three saying they’re going to be retiring the next year”.

This came on the back of about 8,500 unfilled doctor vacancies and about 80,000 vacancies in the NHS that have been unfilled, he said.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Dr Nagpaul continued: “This comes at a time when the new Health Secretary was going to see a baptism of fire, he won’t have the luxury of a phased handover, he’ll have to make every day count.”

He added that Javid will need to be “honest” with the public over tackling a backlog of care and negotiate the resources that the NHS needs.

The chairman noted there are currently “a record five plus million patients on waiting lists” which “doesn’t include about 20 million patients who were not seen in outpatient clinics last year”.

“Many of those patients will become more ill as time goes on. Many of them have health conditions, which if they’re not treated promptly, will become more serious," he said.

“And what he will need to do is manage that crisis in a way that delivers prioritisation, but also be honest with the public about the length of time it’s going to take.

“And as a health secretary, and a former chancellor, he’s going to need to negotiate the resources that the NHS needs."

Dr Nagpaul claimed the government has not costed for the "several billions of pounds that are going to be needed to address this backlog."

He also said Mr Javid will need to address issues around pay and recruitment, adding health workers wanted to hear that “he understands the workforce”.

“The health service cannot survive without its workforce,” he said.