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28-06-2011 | General practice | Article

BMA repeats call to withdraw Bill


BMA Annual Representative Meeting 2011

BMA members have again called for the complete withdrawal of the Health and Social Care Bill, despite government concessions on some aspects of the legislation.

In a debate at the Association's Annual Representative Meeting, members agreed that revisions to the Bill set out by the government do not go far enough.

In particular, they believe that the government still needs to clarify both the Secretary of State's role in ensuring provision of a comprehensive health service, and Monitor's role in promoting competition.

The vote suggested a loss of faith in the BMA leadership. Chair of BMA Council Dr Hamish Meldrum had argued against calling for the Bill to be withdrawn, warning that it risks marginalising the organisation in further negotiations.

"If you push too far you may lose some of the ground we have already taken," he said.

But London GP Dr Paddy Glackin, who proposed the motion, countered: "This is not the time to back off... this is the time to push further and harder."

Members nevertheless narrowly rejected another call to oppose the Bill in its entirety.

The BMA vote came just as the Bill was due to be returned to the Commons Public Bill Committee for further scrutiny.

Outlining the opposition Labour party's arguments, the office of shadow health secretary John Healey highlighted that there is still no duty on Monitor to promote collaboration between organisations within the system.

Monitor is instead charged with preventing anti-competitive behaviour, the opposition says, defined in the Bill as "behaviour which would 'prevent, restrict or distort competition'", meaning that competition "remains a much stronger force in Monitor's new duties than the Future Forum recommended".

GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Caroline Price