BMA Annual Representatives Meeting - News round up

Private company’s involvement in the NHS and the CMO for England have both come in for harsh criticism at the British Medical Association's (BMA) Annual Representatives Meeting (ARM) in Torquay.

Chief medical officer Liam Donaldson
Chief medical officer Liam Donaldson

Independent sector providers should not deliver NHS services unless no alternative exists, representatives insisted, strongly backing a motion calling for strict limits on private involvement. Firms should be brought in only if NHS providers cannot deliver a service, and if it can be guaranteed that this will not damage existing services, it said.

Contracts with private providers should be short-term, serving as stop-gaps until NHS providers can take over, and private firms should not be allowed to withhold information on the grounds that it is commercially sensitive

Doctors' leaders also called for the 'immediate resignation' of CMO Sir Liam Donaldson because of the poor handling of changes to regulation, medical education and the Medical Training and Applications Service.

Dr John Hyslop, a member of the BMA's central consultants and specialists committee, said that lowering the standard of proof in fitness to practise cases would deliver 'rough justice' for doctors. He added that Modernising Medical Careers turned junior doctors' careers 'into a lottery'.

Salisbury GP Dr Helena McKeown said that the civil standard of proof could 'wrongly endanger the lives of many of our colleagues'. 'We need to send the CMO a loud message he can't fail to hear - you have lost the support of the profession and must resign,' she said.

The ARM also agreed that patients should be able to buy medication not available on the NHS and remain NHS patients and called for health departments across the UK to change their rules.

A BMA survey launched at the conference found that 53 per cent of patients agreed that ‘a small charge should be made for some services' because NHS resources were limited.

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