Doctors to demand referendum on Health Bill –
No confidence in Lansley and Coalition
An Uprising among doctors against the government’s plan to smash up and privatise the NHS, contained in the Health and Social Care Bill, is set to erupt at next Tuesday’s Special Representative Meeting of the British Medical Association (BMA).
Motions due to be discussed at the meeting in central London call for an end to the BMA leaders’ ‘critical engagement’ with it, and for total opposition to, and action against the Bill, and for ‘no confidence’ in health secretary Lansley.
Representatives of the 140,000-member BMA will also hear demands that the government hold a public referendum on the reforms and withdraw the Bill ‘if there is not a clear mandate of support’.
Since the publication of the Bill in January, anger has been growing among doctors as the full impact of the government’s privatisation plan became apparent as the £20bn ‘efficiency savings’, initiated by the previous Labour government, saw hundreds of sackings and many bed cuts.
Most BMA members are opposed to the leadership’s policy of ‘critical engagement’ and are calling for it to switch to a policy of outright opposition.
Laurence Buckman, chair of the GPs committee of the BMA, has admitted: ‘There is a lot in (the Bill) we don’t like. . . like the commercialisation of the NHS.’
chair of the BMA consultants committee, Dr Mark Porter, warned earlier this week: ‘Very deliberately the government wishes to turn back the clock to the 1930s and 1940s, when there were private, charitable and co-operative providers of healthcare.
‘But that system failed to provide comprehensive and universal service for the citizens of this country. That’s why health was nationalised.
‘But they’re proposing to go back to the days before the NHS.’
Motions before Tuesday’s meeting, which will be attended by 350 representatives of consultants, GPs and junior doctors, include one from the Enfield and Haringey division.
This expresses ‘grave concern’ that the Bill will lead to the ‘privatisation’ of care and calls on the BMA to ‘decide on actions to prevent the implementation of the Bill, including industrial action’.
The South West BMA regional council calls on the BMA to oppose the Bill ‘in its entirety’.
The London regional council calls on the ‘BMA council to poll members, between now and its annual general meeting, on forms of action to prevent the implementation of the legislation’.
Meanwhile, the BMA’s Eastern regional council has called for the BMA to launch a campaign against the application of competition law in the NHS.
Many motions state that the Special Representative Meeting ‘has no confidence in the Health secretary Andrew Lansley’.
Buckinghamshire representatives say he has ‘demonstrated his desire to destroy the public’s trust in their GPs’ and is unfit to lead the NHS.
Others say Lansley has broken his pre-election promise of no top-down reorganisations of the NHS.
In a bid to play down the uprising, Dr Steve Hajioff, chairman of the BMA’s special representative group and chair of the meeting, said it was highly unlikely the BMA could initiate industrial action, even if the members voted to.