18 Feb 11
By Ian Quinn Pulse Magazine
Exclusive: The momentum in favour of a vote of outright opposition against the Government NHS reforms gathered pace last night after a fractious meeting called by BMA London voted to stop the health bill in its tracks.
An overwhelming majority of the estimated 250 people at the meeting backed a motion calling for the BMA to scrap its policy of critical engagement and instead introduce a policy of total opposition to the bill.
Up to 100 protestors carried out a noisy demonstration against the reforms outside the regional meeting and inside the hall at BMA House, health minister Simon Burns faced catcalls from some of the audience and saw the Government’s plans come under fire from BMA leader, Dr Hamish Meldrum.
The BMA London move is the latest in a series of motions by BMA divisions and council members calling for a policy change, which looks set to be debated at a BMA Special Representative Meeting next month.
Dr Meldrum, who has come under increasing pressure to drop the BMA’s engagement policy, set out the association’s strong objections to the bill at the meeting, especially plans to ramp up competition from the private sector.
Also speaking at the meeting, shadow health minister Diane Abbott attacked the Government’s plans and afterwards declared the meeting was a sign of ‘all-out opposition to Tory health reforms.’
Mr Burns faced a string of questions from angry members of the audience, who demanded to know why the Government had not trialed its plans and also why many of the key elements of the health bill were not included in the coalition’s manifesto.
Outside the meeting, Dr Ron Singer, president of the Medical Practitioners’ Union and one of its GPC members, explained why they were protesting.
‘We think the changes proposed in the bill are so massive that nothing but outright opposition to, so that it never sees the light of day, it is the only course. A lot of people turning up tonight will tell the London division of the BMA that they must take a stronger line. What is being offered to GPs – to run the NHS and have control over the budget – is just simply not true.’