BMA opposition to health reform plans takes shape

An emergency special representative meeting next month will define which parts of the Health Bill the profession will oppose, BMA leaders say.

Dr McKeown: BMA faced pressure to hold meeting on NHS reforms (Photograph: M Case Green)
Dr McKeown: BMA faced pressure to hold meeting on NHS reforms (Photograph: M Case Green)

But industrial action to derail the Bill is 'unlikely', council members say. GPC chairman and BMA council member Dr Laurence Buckman said the meeting in March would give BMA members a chance to discuss the Bill and how to influence MPs.

Options available to the BMA involve 'making a load of publicity' and issuing guidance on how health professionals should operate in the reformed NHS, said Dr Buckman. Special meetings in the past have set the direction of BMA policy but never resulted in strike action, he said.

The BMA is also surveying members this month to gather opinion on the Bill and has developed a pack to help doctors lobby their local MPs.

BMA council member Dr Helena McKeown said there had been mounting pressure to call the meeting. 'The last comparable meeting was the special meeting of LMCs when the new contract was being introduced,' she said.

Dr Buckman refuted suggestions that the BMA had been pressurised into calling the meeting. 'I've always said you have to wait to see exactly what is proposed first. We knew this was going to be the biggest thing ever.'

The BMA has called for the government to halt implementation of reforms until the Bill passes through parliament. In a briefing ahead of the second reading of the Bill in Parliament this week, the BMA set out a list of clauses it opposes.

It is calling for assurances that medical training and workforce planning will be overseen at a national level.

The BMA hopes GP consortia will be required to involve other medical professions, and opposes economic regulator Monitor's powers to enforce competition across the NHS.


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