HEWITT MUST GO! say junior doctors

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THE British Medical Association (BMA) Junior Doctors Conference in London on Saturday called for the immediate resignation of health secretary Patricia Hewitt and health minister Lord Hunt, over the government’s post-graduate medical training ‘reforms’ fiasco.

Doctors are angry that 18,000 junior doctors face being without a training place or job in August, and are furious that 7,000 junior doctors had their personal details leaked onto the internet last Wednesday.

A large number of delegates also expressed no confidence in the BMA Junior Doctors Committee (JDC) leadership.

Standing Orders was suspended to hear Emergency Motion 2 which stated: ‘This conference has no confidence in the chair (Jo Hilborne) vice chair (Andrew Rowland) and deputy chair education and training (Tom Dolphin) of the JDC of the BMA. We therefore call for their immediate resignation.’

In her address to conference, JDC chair Jo Hilborne defended their position saying ‘the fault is not with the JDC’ but with this government which ‘has ignored the whole of the BMA’ and ‘listens to no-one’.

Moving the no confidence motion, Andrew Smith, North Thames, said: ‘I’m furious at the way MMC and MTAS have been imposed on us and the way the BMA has handled it.’

He added that the ‘BMA has been impotent in the last few months’ and ‘Jo Hilborne’s speech is too little too late’.

He insisted ‘we want no part of the MTAS review’ set up by the government.

Opposing the motion, Andrew Kelso, South West Thames, said: ‘A change of leadership at this stage would be deeply divisive and damaging.’

Liong Mee Hii, North West London, said: ‘The government does not listen to anyone, it does what it wants, so does this leadership.

‘The time has come to be Churchill not Chamberlain, stop negotiating.’

Opposing the motion, Katie MacLaren, Scotland, said: ‘We need to work with the Department of Health to make sure our training goes ahead.’

The motion’s seconder, Katie Bramall, North Thames, said: ‘They say there is no other way. They say the government won’t listen. I don’t want these people leading me, they’ve given up.’

Several other speakers spoke against the motion, citing the need for unity.

After an intervention by BMA chair James Johnson the motion went to a recorded vote on each of the three JDC officers.

It was lost by 45 to 106 with 11 abstentions (Jo Hilborne); 34 to 161 with 14 abstentions (Andrew Rowland); and 37 to 114 with 12 abstentions (Tom Dolphin).

Conference went on to debate Motion 30 BLT (before lunchtime) which called on health secretary Hewitt to resign.

Mover Katie Bramall said to cheers: ‘This motion calls for the secretary of state to resign and re-apply for her old position under revised terms and conditions.’

These included ‘none of your previous experience will count towards the current appointment’ and job specifications ‘will be found on our website which has been withdrawn due to a security breach’.

Bramall added that while the motion was a send up: ‘We have had the rise taken out of our profession for too long. This woman has to go.’

She concluded: ‘The buck has to stop somewhere – Patricia Hewitt resign!’

The motion was unanimously carried to applause on a show of hands.

This was followed by Motion 31 from North Thames region JDC, stating: ‘That this conference believes the current Modernising Medical Careers reforms have been implemented in a shambolic and deeply destructive manner. The public and the medical profession have had enough of the political games that are being played with training of the future medical workforce.’

Delegates cheered as they voted for the motion’s demands for the ‘immediate resignation’ of health minister Hunt and health secretary Hewitt, and for a National Audit Office review ‘regarding the waste of public money as a result of MMC’.

Delegates rejected a clause calling for ‘an independent public inquiry into the implementation’ of MMC.

This followed the intervention of delegate Tim Nedas who warned: ‘If we pass this clause the government will say “we’ve already set up an inquiry”.’

Moving the motion, JDC officer Tom Dolphin had said: ‘MMC has come so far from its original aims it has become the antithesis of all that training should be.

‘Junior doctors know who is responsible. Hewitt was warned by the JDC and proceeded regardless.

‘Lord Hunt did the same. Ministers failed, failed personally and they must resign.’

Emergency motion 154 on MMC and MTAS deplored the security breach as ‘gross negligence’ but a clause (iii) stating conference ‘believes that MTAS cannot continue to be used and should not be again’ was carried as a reference back on the advice of JDC chair Hilborne.

Mover JDC vice-chair Andrew Rowland had said ‘enough is enough’ and pledged to ‘continue to press for the best solution for as many junior doctors as possible.’

Delegates were asked to vote on their preference out of a number of options laying down the JDC negotiating position.

They settled on the formula ‘B i) all eligible applicants must be interviewed for all of their original choices throughout the UK, starting their posts in 2007’, or ‘B v) the whole of MMC specialty training is postponed and a return is made to SHO and SpR posts for a further period of one year while a new application process is devised.’

Delegates also voted unanimously for Motion 89 International Medical Graduates that deplored ‘recent changes in Home Office Immigration Laws’ and called on the BMA to continue to lobby the government ‘to exempt graduates of UK medical schools from this legislation’.

Mover, student delegate Ian Noble said: ‘In April last year the Home Office, the other large government department that is not fit for purpose, decided that non-EEA medical students studying in this country should not be allowed to continue their training beyond the level of FY2 (foundation year two).’

Noble added: ‘It cost approximately £100,000 for a non-EEA student to obtain a medical degree in this country. When these people applied to study it was on the premise that they could complete their training here.

‘To remove that right retrospectively is tantamount to theft.’

Motion 18 on private treatment centres was also carried unanimously. This called for the BMA ‘to vigorously campaign for CATS (Clinical Assessment and Treatment Services) and similar schemes to be stopped and reversed.’

Mover Andrew O’Brien, South Thames warned: ‘These are poorly thought out and designed to milk the NHS dry.

‘When you look at the companies involved, it’s a dangerous precedent.

‘We are signing the death warrant of the NHS by letting these people have free rein.’