Opening the BMA annual representative meeting in Harrogate, Dr Mark Porter said politicians could either learn from their mistakes or face a fight with doctors.
‘If they want that argument, we’re up for it,' he said.
‘We’ll show the public that money is wasted on untested policies, not hard-working public servants. We’ll show the public the care we already deliver out of hours, in hospitals and in general practice, and that we designed it and do it for them.
‘We’ll show the public the chronic lack of investment in emergency medicine, in general practice, in public health, in mental health, across the NHS.’
He added: ‘And with the general election just 10 months away, we could be fighting like this every day.’
Dr Porter said there could be another way, if government stopped the ‘sly briefing’ against the profession and allowed doctors to be the leaders and innovators they have proved they can be, freed from unnecessary targets.
‘Secondly,’ he added, ‘you recognise that no organisation in history has improved through a blanket refusal to invest. It is economic illiteracy. Services move around, every sector experiencing an increase in demand and a need to reconfigure, but there has been no extra investment to match.'
‘It’s not too late to recognise that every day, the time and energy of thousands of people are serving a failed ideology rather than the benefit of patients.
‘It’s not too late to realise that every time the NHS is carved up and fragmented, instead of dedicated to the pursuit of seamless care, patients will suffer.
‘It’s not too late to solve chronic shortages of money and staff, rather than exploit them for a cheap headline.’