BMA excluded from DoH talks on NHS reform

Health minister and surgeon Lord Ara Darzi is failing to consult with the BMA on his radical plans for health.

When asked why GPs seemed to be excluded from talks about the NHS' future, Lord Darzi spoke of clinical working groups, the NHS Alliance and the RCGP but did not mention the BMA.

Both BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum and GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman have said there has been no dialogue with the government despite Lord Darzi's proposals and criticism of GPs.

Participating in a Downing Street webchat, Gloria Middleton, chairwoman of the Institute of Healthcare Management, said: 'It is the belief of general practice that they are not being consulted. It is very much from the patient point of view and the trust's point of view, with the exclusion of the people who are at the forefront of patient care.'

Lord Darzi replied: 'I agree that both engagement and a significant contribution from primary care is vital. I have instructed that all the clinical working groups I have set up as part of this review should have a significant representation from clinicians working in primary care.'

Dr Meldrum had previously described the citizen's juries used in the current consultation as 'stage-managed' and said there was cynicism that 'the decisions have already been made'.

Lord Darzi defended the citizen's juries and said: 'It is vitally important that we talk to the public if we are to design the best healthcare system for the future.'

When asked if a jury paid to attend could be impartial and representative, Darzi replied: 'The money was paid to compensate for their time and loss of income. I feel it is their right. The idea that this is going to influence their thinking is absurd.'

Shadow Conservative Party justice secretary Nick Herbert (Arundel and South Downs) has described the juries as 'junk politics' and was critical of the private nature of the discussion and selection process.

Lord Darzi was also asked how his current consultation differed from former health secretary Patricia Hewitt's recent 'Our Health, Our Care, Our Say' review. He replied: 'This review builds on 'Our Health, Our Care, Our Say' and also on previous reviews such as the NHS Plan.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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