‘Keep politics out of NHS’, LMCs suggest

LMCs in Northern Ireland have called for the NHS to be cut off from direct political control and established as an independent authority along the lines of the Bank of England.

GP leaders at the 2007 LMCs conference in Northern Ireland heavily backed a motion calling for this on the grounds that ‘the NHS is not well served by unwarranted political interference in its day-to-day management’.

GPC UK deputy chairman Dr Laurence Buckman was among speakers who urged GPs to back the call.

‘For politicians, the NHS is only to get them re-elected,’ he said. ‘They are not interested in the service itself — policies are developed daily, each one cancelling out the last.

‘If ever there was a time when the NHS needed to be disconnected from the immediate control of politics, this is it.

‘Let healthcare develop in a way that is not subject to the political whim.’

Eastern LMC secretary Dr Jimmy Courtney said: ‘With each change of administration there is a new set of policies.

‘It has been a shambles — we are a political football. I think it would be much better to have policy made at the health department, but to permit the NHS run itself.’

However, Eastern LMC member Dr George O’Neill was not convinced of the merits of separating politicians from the NHS.

He said that the health ministers in Northern Ireland in recent years had been ‘here today, gone tomorrow’, but he suggested this could be different following the re-establishment of devolved government.

However, GPC Northern Ireland chairman Dr Brian Dunn said he could not see politicians giving up control of an institution that swallows such a large budget.

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