At a meeting at the Conservative conference in Manchester this week shadow health minister Mark Simmonds said that GPs were best placed to commission, because of their understanding of patient needs.
But Dr Meldrum, the BMA council chairman, replied that although GPs can 'very much be involved in commissioning', acute doctors had to play a role too.
'GPs have a duty to individual patients,' he said.
'You're putting on them this other duty to the health of the overall population. That puts a very great tension in the system.'
That tension would be 'much easier' to resolve if shared with consultants and patients, he said.