BMA accused of derailing government plans for NHS

Labour Party Conference - Meldrum defends BMA stance Labour blogger calls for an 'anti-QOF' scheme.

Dr Hamish Meldrum

The BMA attempted to derail key government health policies, the chairman of Labour's back-bench health group has alleged.

John Grogan, the MP for Selby, told a fringe event at the party's conference last week that: 'The BMA really tried to mess up one of our most important policies, which was to extend GP provision.

'And it launched an absolutely scurrilous campaign against polyclinics.'

All speakers at the Brighton event, organised by Compass, opposed the marketisation of healthcare. But Mr Grogan said the BMA was speaking from a 'different position' to the others.

Some policies 'may be entirely in the producers' interest', he said. 'But sometimes we need to stand up to those interests.'

BMA council chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum responded that the union never opposed the policies in themselves, merely the inflexible way in which they had been imposed.

He compared the extended hours policy to demanding a surgeon not only work later, but pay for the electricity and nursing staff needed to do so.

He added: 'I chair a membership organisation, and I make no apology for defending the interests of my members.'

The BMA's campaign against marketisation was launched earlier this year to challenge 'the political view that marketisation is inevitable and beneficial for the NHS'.

Health secretary Andy Burnham may have signalled a shift in policy last month, stating that NHS providers should be the preferred option.

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