BMA warns NHS faces 'exceptionally testing time' in 2011

Health secretary Andrew Lansley's reform plans are 'unnecessarily ambitious' and have left the NHS facing an 'exceptionally testing time' in 2011, the BMA has warned.

Dr Meldrum: the government is pushing ahead with an unnecessarily ambitious programme of reform.
Dr Meldrum: the government is pushing ahead with an unnecessarily ambitious programme of reform.

In his New Year message to doctors, BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum warned: ‘Against a backdrop of an unprecedented financial challenge, with efficiency savings of at least £20bn being sought in England alone, the government is pushing ahead at break-neck speed, with an unnecessarily ambitious programme of reform.’

Dr Meldrum predicted the profession would rise to the challenge, and backed plans to boost clinical involvement in the design and delivery of healthcare along with plans to replace ‘crude targets’ with a greater focus on quality and outcomes.

But he said: ‘We have real concerns about other aspects of the planned reforms.

'In particular, the lack of detail in many areas, the increasing emphasis on competition and the market, and the significant risks created by the process of rushed and unnecessarily risky transition, particularly at a time of such financial stringency.’

Meanwhile, BMA Scotland chairman Dr Brian Keighley urged the government not to cut medical posts.

‘It is disappointing that over the course of this year, cuts to the NHS workforce and attacks on doctors’ contracts have been identified by politicians as the way to navigate the NHS through these difficult financial times.’

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