In his speech to delegates at the annual representatives meeting (ARM) in Cardiff today, BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum also warned that constant 'attacks' on doctors' pensions, contracts and upheaval in the NHS were undermining the profession.
Dr Meldrum highlighted the importance of trust in doctor-patient relationships, and warned that DoH plans to pay a 'quality premium' to consortia that cut costs and improve outcomes risked undermining that trust.
The latest Ipsos MORI poll has shown that 9 out of 10 patients trust their doctor to tell the truth, Dr Meldrum said.
Effective healthcare relies on the trust of patients, and it is a privilege for doctors to hold that trust, Dr Meldrum said.
‘It’s an honour for doctors to hold this position but we also recognise that it must never be taken for granted. In times of crisis trust is more important than ever,' Dr Meldrum said.
‘There is a danger this trust might be put at risk by some of the government’s plans,’ he warned.
Dr Meldrum stressed the importance of collaborative working to improve the NHS and maintain patient trust. Doctors will have more responsibility for planning services but this will only work if it is a shared responsibility, he added.
He said uncertainty over doctors' contracts and pensions were 'a sad litany of threat, uncertainty and criticism that gnaws away at the professionalism and dedication of those we represent'.
Dr Meldrum defended the role of GPs against media and government ‘attacks’. ‘There are not-so-veiled threats to their contracts and the untold damage that will be caused by the madness of abolishing practice boundaries.’
He warned the BMA would take tough action to defend pensions. ‘Let me make it clear, we will consider every possible, every legitimate action that can be taken to defend doctor’s pensions.
‘I will continue to fight, with every fibre of my being, for a profession that the public trusts, that I love, and that I am proud to represent,’ Dr Meldrum said.