BMA condemns Health Bill
The BMA has roundly condemned the Health and Social Care Bill, with delegates at the Special Representative Meeting voting overwhelmingly to call for withdrawal of the legislation.
However, members endorsed the BMA leadership's approach of 'critical engagement' with the government and narrowly voted against opposing the entire Bill, with 44% voting for and 54% against.
The highly charged vote on outright opposition came after Chairman of Council Dr Hamish Meldrum had warned that the Bill is unlikely to be dropped, and urged delegates not to risk losing a place at the negotiating table.
Speaking against, Chief Executive of Londonwide Local Medical Committees Dr Michelle Drage also warned that huge numbers of GPs already involved in commissioning could become alienated and defect to the National Association of Primary Care, risking a split in the BMA.
But Dr Jacky Davis, Co-Chair of the NHS Consultants Association, argued that the Bill amounted to the final step towards full privatisation of the NHS, which she said would signal the end of the association altogether.
Dr Davis, who received two standing ovations in proposing the motion, said: "We've voted to make changes to almost every part of this Bill today, so what's at issue here is whether you think the government will listen to us and make all those changes - and if so you've probably got fairies at the bottom of your garden."
Delegates had nevertheless voted against the BMA leadership in calling for the government to withdraw the legislation. Speaking for that motion, BMA Council member Dr Ian Banks said the Bill puts the whole NHS in danger and continuing to work with the government would be self-defeating.
"If someone's trying to strangle you, there's only so long you can keep asking, 'would you mind using one hand?' ", Dr Banks said.
GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011
By Caroline Price