NHS should not be privatised like gas and water industry, says BMA

The NHS should not be run in the same way as privatised industries such as water, gas, and telecommunications, the BMA has warned.

Dr Meldrum: privatisation is not the right model for the NHS
Dr Meldrum: privatisation is not the right model for the NHS

The BMA raised concerns that the Health Bill will give economic regulator Monitor the same powers as the Office of Fair Trading that apply to a number of privatised industries. It calls for a number of amendments to the Bill to remove the duty of Monitor to promote competition in the NHS.

The BMA also said it feared that Monitor would focus more on enforcing competition than on the provision of effective healthcare and that legal challenges could divert healthcare providers and commissioners from ensuring high quality care.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of BMA council, said privatisation is not the right model for the NHS.  ‘The consequences of failure in healthcare are far more serious than in other industries,' he said.

'At best, providers of care will be distracted from their main responsibility of providing excellent services. At worst, hospitals will close – not necessarily for appropriate reasons – and large groups of patients will have greater difficulty in accessing the care they need.

‘The role of the regulator should not be to enforce potentially damaging competition but to ensure comprehensive, high quality care and to protect patients.’

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