Wales England Scotland Northern Ireland

Last updated:

BMA leads charge on medical professionalism

BMA council chair Mark Porter (pictured) has called for a renewed focus on medical professionalism, as the association embarks on a major campaign to promote the value of the profession and help doctors to lead change.Mark Porter

In his New Year’s message, Dr Porter said the BMA would work to support and empower doctors who want to make services better for patients and tackle the challenges to the health service that lay ahead.

He insisted there was a need to step out of the traditional roles of managers and doctors ‘because two tribes bring half the benefits to patients’.

He pointed out the potential for harm when staff gave up, citing the failings of care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr Porter said: ‘Clearly it is time to put medical professionalism back at the heart of the NHS, and in 2014 we will be starting a major campaign to put modern professional values — like integrity, evidence-based practice, and patient-centeredness — to the fore.’

Doctors in driving seat

The BMA campaign will help doctors to take the lead on issues such as seven-day services, promote the extraordinary things they do in their working lives, and drive contract negotiations for UK junior doctors and consultants in England and Northern Ireland.

It also aims to shape NHS reform so that medical professionalism is liberated.

Dr Porter said: ‘This means that not only will doctors be willing to lead and improve, but the system enables them to do so.’

‘We look to learn from best practice in the health service and outside it, and how those who raise concerns can be supported and protected.’

Dr Porter warned of the problems that lay ahead, with a ‘dire’ financial outlook in the NHS and predictions of a £44bn to £54bn shortfall in England within a decade unless there were productivity gains.

Efforts to generate savings have not brought optimism, with the Commons health select committee warning that neither reducing tariff payments to providers nor cutting staff pay through freezes were ‘a sustainable form of efficiency gain’.


Brave efforts

But Dr Porter said there had also been thoughtful and brave efforts to reconfigure services, many led by clinicians, with the transformation of London’s stroke services being ‘one such brilliant but rare example’.

He maintained: ‘Our aim is to encourage professionalism to flourish, by ensuring the NHS is built around it.

‘In the contracts we negotiate, in the open and engaged way in which we offer to work in partnership to reform services, and most of all in enabling integrity and compassion to be at the heart of what we do, I want this to be a good year for professionalism, and a great one for patient care.’

Read Dr Porter's New Year message 2014