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The News Line: News ‘WITHDRAW BILL!’ – DEMAND GPs
Unite demonstration in London on July 7th in defence of the NHS
AS the Health and Social Care Bill undergoes its third reading, 400 GPs have signed a letter calling for a massive campaign to secure the withdrawal of the Bill.

The letter points out that the BMA ‘have agreed to start a public campaign calling for the complete withdrawal of the Health and Social Care Bill.’

The letter concludes that ‘The Bill lacks an electoral mandate . . . We call on the government to withdraw the Bill.’

The BMA and some other health unions also sent a letter to the Times yesterday.

It states: ‘Our organisations – representing a large majority of doctors, nurses, midwives and allied health professionals in England – believe that the Bill could still potentially destabilise the NHS as we know it. This is despite some positive amendments which we acknowledge the government made to the legislation over the summer.’

It concludes: ‘We support a vision of healthcare that is patient focused, clinically led and based on outcomes.

‘We are also committed to addressing the big issues facing health and social care in the future.
‘That is why we believe as a minimum, further significant amendments must be made to the Health Bill.’

Among the signatures are Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman, BMA Council; Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive and General Secretary, Royal College of Nursing; Dr Clare Gerada, Chair, Royal College of GPs; Professor Cathy Warwick, General Secretary, Royal College of Midwives; and Professor Sue Bailey, President, Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Dr Meldrum’s signature on the letter has aroused great anger amongst GPs whose conference voted that the BMA must see to it that the Bill is withdrawn.

Dr Louise Irvine, a South London GP, is already on record as saying: ‘The BMA has a mandate to publicly campaign against the Bill. It must do so immediately.’

She wrote in the Pulse magazine: ‘As a GP who has been campaigning against the Health and Social Care Bill, I was greatly encouraged when on 20 July, BMA Council called for the BMA to start a public campaign for withdrawal of the Bill. It heralded the kind of medical leadership that I felt was essential for the Bill to be defeated.

‘Yet six weeks later there is still no sign of a public campaign. When is it going to start? The leadership of the BMA is failing us. Ever since the white paper was published, it has been hesitant and defeatist. It has had to be dragged by its membership to call for withdrawal of the bill. It has a mandate to campaign publicly against the Bill and must do so. Pressure is mounting against the Bill again.

‘The major health unions – Unite, Unison, GMB – are actively campaigning against it.

‘The RCGP has backed the BMA call for withdrawal. This is an opportunity for the BMA to lead a powerful campaign against the Bill which would have a strong chance of success.

It's not too late for action, but there needs to be a sense of urgency.’

BMA council member Anna Athow told News Line yesterday ‘I am aghast that Meldrum won’t fight for the policy of the BMA.

‘This Bill is to privatise and destroy the NHS.

‘The BMA wants it withdrawn.

‘It is time for Meldrum to resign. We want a leader who fights for BMA policy.’
ends







 
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