Thursday, 17 March 2011

Doctors harden their stance.

I couldn't make a return to blogging without first talking about the BMA meeting that took place two days ago, where doctors came out against just about every single major part of the Tory Health Bill. I call it the 'Tory' bill because it's now also clear that their partners in coalition object to it as well as everyone in health care.

Here's a selection of the motions that were approved by the meeting:

- That this Meeting believes that the current plans for reform are too extreme and too rushed and will negatively impact on patient care. We call upon the Health Secretary to:- i) call a halt to the proposed top down reorganisation of the NHS; ii) withdraw the Health and Social Care Bill; iii) consider and act on the criticisms and advice from the medical profession that were collected during the White Paper consultation; iv) adopt an approach of evolution not revolution regarding any changes to the NHS in England.

- That this Meeting believes that the proposals in the Health and Social Care Bill were not part of the election manifesto of either of the coalition parties, and calls on the government to accept that:- i) there is no electoral mandate for the introduction of such changes.

- That this Meeting deplores the government’s use of misleading and inaccurate information to denigrate the NHS, and to justify the Health and Social Care Bill reforms, and believes that:- i) the Health Bill is likely to worsen health outcomes as a result of fragmentation and competition.

As well as these more general points, each individual part of the bill was itself dissected and rejected. And whilst the BMA called for the withdrawal to the bill, it stopped short of opposing it in its entireity. However, people watching the meeting online will have noticed this was more of a result of the Chairman's plea to not tie the negotiators hands rather than any particularly good parts of the bill, the proposer of the motion to oppose the entire motion got the loudest standing ovation of the entire day.

Equally, Andrew Lansley was only spared a No Confidence vote because Hamish Meldrum appealed to the meeting and because the Special Representatives would have no more confidence in whomever replaced Andrew Lansley.

Whilst at the time I was disappointed the tone wasn't more strident from the BMA, I now see it has its benefits. The claim from David Cameron that the BMA is 'just another trade union' is frankly laughable in light of this meeting. The debates held were a million miles from the Punch and Judy politics of the House of Commons and despite being baited by politicians who insisted they would ignore the insights of doctors the BMA insisted on continuing to engage.

Frankly, Parliament could learn a lot from the democracy of the BMA. And they should certainly listen when the people who know the NHS the best say that this will destroy it.

P.s. I noticed that a favourite way to claim doctors were onside was to point to the number of GPs who were already involved in pathfinder schemes. I should make it clear to Lansley, these GPs didn't take part because they like the scheme (at least the majority didn't), most did so because PCT's are in meltdown because of these changes and someone needed to step in to fill the gap or patients would suffer. Unlike Lansley, GPs were simply putting patients before ideology.

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