BMA and royal colleges join forces to oppose Health Bill

BMA leaders will meet this week with the Royal College of Nursing and other medical royal colleges to build a united front in opposition to the Health Bill.

Dr Richard Vautrey: Andrew Lansley is 'stonewalling'
Dr Richard Vautrey: Andrew Lansley is 'stonewalling'

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said the intention was to ‘provide a united position against the Health Bill but in support of appropriate changes to the NHS’.

The meeting, planned for Thursday 26 January, follows a wave of attacks on health secretary Andrew Lansley’s NHS reforms.

A House of Commons health select committee report this week warned that NHS services were being ‘salami-sliced’ in a bid to hit the £20bn savings target set by NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson.

A recent poll of RCGP members found that 98% would back a call for the Health Bill to be withdrawn if this was made in tandem with other royal colleges.

The Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives last week declared a policy shift on the Health Bill, declaring their opposition to the Bill ‘in its entirety’.

The BMA has also called for the Health Bill to be withdrawn. Dr Vautrey hit out at Mr Lansley’s response to criticisms of his health reform programme.

‘I don’t think stonewalling in that way is the way to increase engagement with health professionals and patients.

‘I think he at the moment appears to be not fully taking on board the seriousness of the increasing opposition.’

Dr Vautrey added that Mr Lansley had ‘repeatedly outlined his desire for greater clinical engagement and a greater voice for patients’. ‘No one disagrees with that,’ he said. ‘We think he’s going about it in the wrong way.’

Meanwhile, the chairman of the BMA’s GP trainee subcommittee launched an e-petition in a bid to force parliament to debate whether the health secretary should resign over his NHS reform plans.

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni said: ‘The Health Bill is not going to work, it is going to cause a lot of problems, but Mr Lansley refuses to acknowledge that.

‘The atmosphere has changed. Before it was just doctors and health workers telling him it’s not right, now it’s MPs too. If he doesn’t listen to doctors and he doesn’t listen to his peers I don’t know who he will listen to. He needs to stop the Bill and take stock.’

A separate e-petition calling for the Bill to be withdrawn has now attracted more than 36,000 signatures.

Nick Bostock

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