BMA to launch public campaign to scrap Health Bill

BMA leaders are to launch a public campaign calling for the withdrawal of the Health Bill, and have accused the government of misleading the public over its impact.

Dr Meldrum: 'It really would be better if the Bill were withdrawn'

The BMA's annual representative meeting last month and its special representative meeting in March voted for the Bill to be withdrawn. But a public campaign appears to signal a step up in BMA opposition to the NHS reforms.

The BMA Council warned at a meeting on Wednesday that the majority of GPs do not support involvement in GP-led or clinical commissioning as set out in the Bill.

Members of the Council voted in favour of a motion rejecting the idea that amendments to the reforms would ‘significantly reduce the risk of further marketisation and privatisation of the NHS’.

BMA leaders accused the government of ‘misleading the public by repeatedly stating that there will be no privatisation of the NHS’.

BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said: ‘While the BMA recognises there have been some changes following the listening pause, there is widespread feeling that the proposed legislation is hopelessly complex, and it really would be better if the Bill were withdrawn.

‘We will continue to critically engage with government and with the parliamentary process to try to achieve this, while continuing to seek further amendments to the Bill.’

A DoH spokesman said the BMA's stance was 'disappointing'. She said: 'We will never privatise the NHS. The BMA's position is disappointing because previously the doctors' union said there was much in our response to the listening exercise that addressed its concerns, and that many of the principles outlined reflected changes it had called for.

'The independent NHS Future Forum confirmed there is widespread support for the principles of our plans. Patients will never have to pay for NHS care. The Bill has changed substantially since the BMA first voted to oppose government policy.'

Editor's blog: Not much of a summer holiday for Andrew Lansley

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