BMA opposes commercialisation proposals
The British Medical Association (BMA) says today that positive aspects of the White Paper proposals, such as devolving control to clinicians and others locally, are likely to be overshadowed by market-based approaches to healthcare.
In its response to the 'Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS' White Paper, the BMA warns that proposals to extend choice to 'any willing provider' and giving the foundation trust regulator Monitor the duty of promoting competition may lead to a shift in focus to cost rather than quality.
The BMA believes this would be at the expense of an opportunity for more collaboration across primary and secondary care, as outlined in the proposals to create local consortia of GP practices that would be responsible for commissioning local healthcare on behalf of their patients.
It says that successful commissioning will only be achieved if consortia are able to draw on the expertise of other clinicians, such as consultants, public health specialists and clinical academics, and if there is meaningful engagement with the public.
Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of Council at the BMA, said: "The BMA has consistently argued that clinicians should have more autonomy to shape services for their patients, but pitting them against each other in a market-based system creates waste, bureaucracy and inefficiency.
"Doctors want to build on the founding principles of the NHS, and to maintain and improve services despite the hugely challenging financial climate. However, they can only succeed if they can work in partnership with others in a co-operative environment.
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By Lucy Piper