BMA council chairman condemns privatisation of the NHS
British Medical Association
28 June 2010
By Anita Wilkinson
The government needs to overturn incoherent and divisive market-based policies in healthcare, BMA council chairman Hamish Meldrum has insisted.
He called on health secretary Andrew Lansley to reverse the market reforms that pit trusts against one another, secondary against primary care, increase costs and duplicate services
Dr Meldrum was applauded by doctors at the BMA annual representative meeting when he said: ‘We can’t go on promoting a failed market philosophy, with its burgeoning bureaucracy, competitive fragmentation and increasingly perverse incentives. It’s time for change.
‘We can’t go on trying to move the NHS in the direction of the US system of healthcare, just as the richest country in the world is trying to move its system closer to ours because it’s so grossly unfair and completely unaffordable.’
Surplus to requirement
Dr Meldrum condemned lucrative contracts for the independent sector treatment centres in England that are paid upfront but do not deliver on activity, often because they are not needed in the first place.
He also criticised so-called ‘GP-led health centres’, which often received several times the funding per patient of regular practices, despite frequently registering very few patients.
The BMA Look After Our NHS campaign to safeguard the public future of the health service has received thousands of messages of support from the profession and the public, Dr Meldrum told representatives.
He said: ‘Although we have still to change the politicians’ minds, we have highlighted the vital principles of the NHS and have helped to ensure that NHS funding is relatively well preserved - not a mean achievement given the scale of the financial crisis facing the nation.’
Dr Meldrum added that the BMA would continue to speak out against wasteful practices, ill-conceived plans, dogma-driven policies, knee-jerk cuts and evidence-free solutions.
He called on doctors to play a part in putting forward better alternatives and take control in deciding best how to deliver joined-up, integrated primary and secondary care that was a true partnership of equals.
But he vowed: ‘We will not let up on our determination to protect all that is best about the NHS. The BMA: not just standing up for doctors, but standing up for patients and looking after our NHS.’