Doctors will fight to resist continuing cuts and privatisation within the NHS, following passionate debates at the BMA annual representative meeting in Edinburgh.
The BMA was also charged with negotiating enhanced ‘deprivation payments’ for areas with deprived populations, in an effort to reduce health inequalities.
London GP Pamela Martin (pictured right), who works in Lewisham, said making a difference in a deprived area and population took time.
‘And time is money. That is not recognised anywhere,’ she said. ‘Until this is recognised, we are stuck in a struggle with inequality.’
London GP Jackie Applebee said the NHS was under severe strain and strife thanks to the £20bn efficiency savings challenge imposed by outgoing chief executive of NHS England, Sir David Nicholson.
Vulnerable at risk
She outlined some of the workforce cuts to frontline jobs and closures of emergency department services around the country.
‘NHS cuts affect all of us but especially the most vulnerable who do not have the resources of the more articulate,’ Dr Applebee said. ‘The Nicholson challenge must be revoked.’
BMA council chair Mark Porter supported calls for the organisation to work with the public and other campaign groups to resist NHS cuts and privatisation.
He said: ‘The poorer, less protected by the prevalent members of society, are bearing the brunt of these cuts.’
There was some opposition from Kent associate specialist in public health medicine Shaji Geevarghese who argued the NHS was ‘very different’ now than it was in 1948.
End PFI deals
Dr Geevarghese said: ‘Things have actually moved on – we need to allow a bit of privatisation for those who can afford it.’
But Dr Applebee said: ‘There is plenty of money in society to pay for the NHS. I do not agree with any form of privatisation.’
PFI (private finance initiative) deals were also attacked with doctors calling on the government to fund new NHS capital projects and renegotiate or buy out existing PFI contracts.
Surrey consultant radiologist Tiz North said: ‘Existing contracts should be renegotiated - ideally the scheme should be redrawn, even if it means more public borrowing.’