More to follow.
The British Medical Association (BMA) renews its opposition to the Destroy the NHS Bill and calls for it to be abandoned in its entirety.
Steve Field who lead the government’s ‘Listening Exercise’ on NHS ‘reforms’ says that the report is possibly wanting on addressing [edit: neglected] the cap on private patients.
- Conservative election poster 2010
A few recent news articles concerning the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.
Doctors have rejected the government’s revised NHS plans, urging their union to take a tougher stance.
Delegates at the annual British Medical Association conference voted in favour of calling for the Health and Social Care Bill to be withdrawn by 59%.
The union initially welcomed concessions by ministers this month on competition and patient choice.
But doctors at the Cardiff meeting said it was time to keep pushing the government “further and harder”.
The plans involve opening up the health service to greater competition and giving GPs a lead role in spending the NHS budget.
Amid mounting criticisms the government put the changes on hold in April. Two weeks ago ministers attempted to appease opponents by watering down certain aspects of the plans.
But delegates at the BMA said they were still not satisfied – despite pleas by BMA leader Dr Hamish Meldrum not to vote in favour of a series of critical motions.
One of those was calling for the bill underpinning the changes to be withdrawn.
Dr Meldrum said he would continue to ask for more.
But he added: “If you push too far you may lose some of the ground you have taken.”
But delegates were not convinced with 59% voting in favour of the motion.
Dr Jacqueline Applebee, a GP from London, said the overhaul would result in one of the “biggest ever social injustices” as it would lead to charges for services and backdoor privatisation.
Over the past few weeks, tens of thousands of us have been helping decide what we should do next with the NHS campaign by taking part in a survey on the 38 Degrees website.
Thanks to the huge outcry against their original plans, the government was forced to make some changes. They’ve changed parts of the wording and made a few real improvements – but some of the most dangerous problems remain.
We’ve not won yet – but we definitely have made progress. According to Andrew Lansley’s original timetable, the NHS changes would be law by now. Together, we’ve helped stop that happen.
The government is facing renewed pressure over its health bill after the GP who led its “listening exercise” admitted he should have done more to flag up concerns about private patients in NHS hospitals, and grassroots doctors meeting in Cardiff demanded further changes.
Labour warned that the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, was still planning to create a “full-scale market” after Steve Field acknowledged that the government would leave hospitals vulnerable to European Union competition law due to the presence of private patients in NHS hospitals. Concerns about a backdoor privatisation of the NHS prompted David Cameron and Nick Clegg to appoint Field to lead the Future Forum review.
As Field was addressing MPs, who are considering the bill again at committee stage, doctors in the British Medical Association defied their leadership to pass a motion at their annual conference criticising the “respray” of the health and social care bill.
Field said a majority of NHS staff who attended his meetings had raised concerns about government plans to lift a cap on the number of private patients using NHS hospitals.
Labour said lifting the cap, which was introduced in 2006, would help foster a free market approach in the NHS.
Field said: “If you wanted a gut feeling from what was happening in the listening exercise – the feeling was actually the private cap should stay because people felt that would provide the protection. But it should be reviewed and put at a reasonable level.”
He admitted he had second thoughts about failing to mention the cap in his report. “To be honest, we didn’t put as much in our report as perhaps we could have done. In fact, it was one area, when we reread the paper at the end, we might have been stronger on.”