Fears remain over quality premium, BMA chairman says

The BMA still has concerns over health reforms despite amendments to the Health Bill and the removal of the quality premium.

Dr Meldrum: if patients even suspected that their GP was being financially rewarded for withholding treatment, then trust in the GP would be seriously damaged.
Dr Meldrum: if patients even suspected that their GP was being financially rewarded for withholding treatment, then trust in the GP would be seriously damaged.

Chairman of the BMA Dr Hamish Meldrum said that amendments to the Health Bill had resulted in ‘significant improvements’. However he said there were still aspects of the Bill that the he would like to see changed or clarified.

Dr Meldrum spoke out against the quality premium, which has been removed from the Bill but not scrapped entirely.

‘One of the areas that we are still discussing with government and we have great reservations about is the idea that GPs will be rewarded, paid to do, in the governments terms, "high quality commissioning".’

Dr Meldrum said that if patients even suspected that their GP was being financially rewarded for withholding treatment, then trust in the GP would be seriously damaged.

‘Whilst we’ve always argued that doctors should be involved in the commissioning process it has to involve patients,’ Dr Meldrum said.

Dr Meldrum said that in order for individual GPs to maintain patient trust and not to be held account for their commissioning decisions, clinical commissioning groups (formerly GP consortia) need to include other clinicians and the public.

‘We do want other people to be involved, not only the other clinicians but also the public so there is absolute openness and transparency about the decisions being taken and the reason they are being taken,’ Dr Meldrum said.

Doctors are going to have to spend what recourses they have most effectively, and they don’t need things like the quality premium to do that, Dr Meldrum said.

‘We feel they would be unnecessary and damaging to that process.’

Uncertainty around the health bill is reflected in this year’s annual representative meeting (ARM) agenda, Dr Meldrum said.

An emergency motion on the ARM agenda, proposed by London GP Dr Paddy Glackin, 'calls on the BMA to continue to call for the Heath and Social Care Bill 2011 to be withdrawn'.

Dr Meldrum added: ‘It is clear from the agenda that feelings are running high.'

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