Friday, 18 February 2011

BMA London vote against the health bill

Exclusive: The momentum in favour of a vote  of outright opposition against the 
Government NHS reforms gathered pace  last night after a fractious meeting 
called by BMA London voted to stop  the health bill in its tracks.

An overwhelming majority of the estimated 250 people at the meeting backed a 
motion calling for the BMA to scrap its policy of critical engagement and 
instead introduce a policy of total opposition to the bill.

Up  to 100 protestors carried out a noisy demonstration against the reforms  
outside the regional meeting and inside the hall at BMA House, health  minister 
Simon Burns faced catcalls from some of the audience and saw  the Government’s 
plans come under fire from BMA leader, Dr Hamish  Meldrum.

The BMA London move is the latest in a series of motions  by BMA divisions and 
council members calling for a policy change, which  looks set to be debated at a 
BMA Special Representative Meeting next  month.

Dr Meldrum, who has come under increasing pressure to drop  the BMA’s engagement 
policy, set out the association's strong objections  to the bill at the meeting, 
especially plans to ramp up competition  from the private sector.

Also  speaking at the meeting, shadow health minister Diane Abbott attacked  the 
Government’s plans and afterwards declared the meeting was a sign of  ‘all-out 
opposition to Tory health reforms.’

Mr Burns faced a  string of questions from angry members of the audience, who 
demanded to  know why the Government had not trialed its plans and also why many 
of  the key elements of the health bill were not included in the coalition’s  

Outside the meeting, Dr Ron Singer, president of the  Medical Practitioners’ 
Union and one of its GPC members, explained why  they were protesting.

‘We think the changes proposed in the bill  are so massive that nothing but 
outright opposition to, so that it never  sees the light of day, it is the only 
course. A lot of people turning  up tonight will tell the London division of the 
BMA that they must take a  stronger line. 

‘What is being offered to GPs – to run the NHS and have control over the budget 
– is just simply not true.’

acknowledgements to Andy Hewett

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