Decide on action to defeat Tory NHS Bill – urges BMA London Regional Assembly

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Health workers march through the centre of London to defend the National Health Service
Health workers march through the centre of London to defend the National Health Service

London doctors have made it clear they are opposed to the government’s plan to slash and privatise the NHS – and want action to defend it.

This was confirmed by a motion carried, with just three against, at a 200-strong BMA London Regional Assembly meeting on Thursday evening, 17th February, on the new Health and Social Care Bill.

The motion stated: ‘This meeting calls on the BMA to move from a policy of critical engagement to a policy of complete opposition to the Health Bill.

‘The BMA should call on the membership to decide what forms of action doctors might take to oppose the implementation of the Bill.’

The membership managed to get this vital motion accepted and voted on with just seconds to go at the end of the meeting.

The London Regional Assembly comes in the run up to the BMA Special Representative Meeting to discuss the Health and Social Care Bill on March 15th.

A number of doctors, including BMA council member and consultant oncologist Dr Clive Peedell, have drawn up motions for the SRM urging the BMA to reject the Bill.

His motion slams the ‘market-based policies enshrined within the health and social care Bill’.

The motion adds: ‘We call upon the BMA to oppose the Bill in its entirety.’

Interviewed by the Today programme on Thursday morning, Dr Peedell said: ‘I’ve been against the reforms from the beginning; it is a privatisation agenda, it undermines the founding principles of the NHS.

‘Mr Lansley doesn’t have a democratic mandate to do that. Doctors up and down the country are beginning to see this now. Most doctors are opposed to the direction of the reforms.’

Asked what he wanted the BMA to do, Peedell said: ‘There are various motions going forward to a meeting next month. We’ve managed to get a Special Representative Meeting to get grassroots opinions.

‘I’ve put a motion myself to oppose the Bill outright. The reason I want to oppose the Bill outright is because the market-based policies within the Bill are mutually reinforcing policies.

‘They all rely on each other, so you can’t just pick and choose to oppose or amend one or two of them, you’ve got to oppose the whole thing.’

He added: ‘The overall range of it is to reduce public sector provision of healthcare in the UK.’

Asked about the Bill transferring funds to ‘GP Consortia’, he also warned that ‘GPs are beginning to realise that they won’t be gaining power’ and the £20bn of NHS ‘efficiency savings’ will mean GPs ‘coming under huge pressure to make financial decisions’.

Warning that the Bill will have hospitals competing with each other, Peedell stressed that evidence shows that ‘market-based systems damage healthcare and are extremely expensive’.

Doctors’ concerns have been heightened by news of thousands of NHS frontline job cuts in south and west London over the past few days.

St George’s Hospital, Tooting, has announced 500 job cuts, and Kingston Hospital 486 – both include nursing posts being axed.

Two weeks ago, Barts and The London NHS Trust announced 630 job losses, including 250 nurses and 100 beds cut.

The London job cuts take the total of NHS jobs in England earmarked to disappear since January 1st to at least 3,053, with another 360 personnel put at risk of redundancy, according to research by the RCN.