Chris Lancelot: In the face of great change, the BMA lacks vision

Oh dear. Here we go again. The BMA isn't prepared to support the White Paper because it is convinced that it's a plot to privatise the NHS; it risks setting doctor against doctor and disrupting local health economies.

The GP Record, by Fran Orford
The GP Record, by Fran Orford

This is so typical of the BMA. It stands on the sidelines, constantly criticising - then, presented with an opportunity that the profession has been requesting for years, turns round and rubbishes it.

Let's apply some basic psychology. Why should the government want the NHS to collapse? Any party which breaks up the NHS knows it will put itself out of power for a generation. And even if destroying the NHS were Conservative policy (which it isn't) the Lib Dems in the cabinet would veto it.

Similarly, those who mutter about 'GPs being set up to fail' are exhibiting signs of paranoia. I will say again: who benefits? No-one - and certainly not the government.

In other words, logic suggests that the government cannot have a hidden agenda.

But in any case, where do openness, decency, integrity and good faith come in? Andrew Lansley (who was once married to a GP and presumably understands GP life quite well) is honouring our abilities by giving us an unprecedented opportunity to reshape the NHS. Why can't the BMA accept his proposals in the spirit with which they have been offered? Is it perhaps that the BMA thinks anything a non-socialist government does is by definition suspect? If so, it needs to be more up-front about its core beliefs - and more open-minded, too.

The White Paper gives us the opportunity to create an NHS guided by clinicians rather than managers, structured for the good of the patients and run by those who understand at the very deepest level the opportunities, problems and nuances involved in the delivery of good quality healthcare. What could be better?

Of course, the White Paper is a huge challenge, but the profession is being given a straightforward offer, which may well prove to be the fulfilment of everything we have ever requested.

The BMA should put its congenital distrust to one side, indulge in some evidence-based politics and then work with the government to make the dream come true.

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