"The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it"
Aneurin Bevan

Friday, 24 September 2010

"Divided" BMA Attacks White Paper

So the Ents have awoken. The BMA have described the NHS White Paper as being "basically a smokescreen for privatisation".

Pulse says that the BMA council spent "two days of often fiery talks", but go on to report: 
"Pulse has learned that the BMA Council passed a motion at its meeting earlier this week which reads: ‘The Council has significant concern about the direction of travel of the NHS reforms with respect to commercialisation of the NHS as provided in the white paper.’"
On GP commissioning Pulse says that the BMA expressed
"fears that the white paper could lead to a lottery of service provision by allowing decisions at local level rather setting central public health needs."
However, the issue that the BMA were most worried aout was privatisation:
GPC member Dr Helena McKeown told Pulse after the meeting: ‘We want to make clear that we have major concerns over the policy of any willing provider. There is a fear that GPs and clinicians could design entire services and then have their decisions overruled by Monitor on the basis of cost which could throw whole hospitals into chaos and open the door to private firms. The analogy I used is it's like the game Jenga - you could take one brick out and the whole thing could fall down.’
Healthcare Republic take a different point of view, choosing to quote BMA council member Dr Fay Wilson:
"The question was not whether to oppose privatisation but whether the whole White Paper should be opposed because it could lead to greater privatisation. We decided to stick to the previous policy, that of critical engagement, so we can help shape the reforms."
Clearly the BMA are not happy with the white paper, and so Lansley has a lot of work to do to persuade what is possibly the most influential union in the country.

Talking of influential unions, last night Unison told the BBC that it had succeeded in obtaining a judicial review against the NHS white paper consultation (the actual page on the BBC web site no longer exists). That was reported on the 1900 news bulletin on Radio 4, but two and a half hours later they put out a correction. Clearly there had been some cockup. The new press release was still encouraging, but the "success" was minor: 
"a high court judge, Mr Justice Collins, says ... there are arguments that may persuade a judge that there was a need for wider consultation based on what has been said and the provisions of the 2009 Act coupled with previous governmental statements"
A judicial review is vital because there has been minimal public discussion about these proposals (ask yourself, where in the mainstream press have you heard anyone saying that all English hospitals will be taken out of public ownership?) The government does not want a wide public discussion about the white paper because they know that the vast majority will be against the proposals.

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