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Doctors back anti-market legislation

Doctors have backed proposed legislation aimed at dismantling NHS reforms and removing the market from the health service.

However, although they supported the proposed NHS Bill 2015, doctors and medical students stopped short of calling for the BMA to lobby for it to be adopted by the Government.

The NHS Bill 2015, due to be placed before the UK Parliament on Thursday as a private member's bill, is a revised version of the NHS Reinstatement Bill, which fell earlier this year ahead of the General Election.

Lancashire GP David Wrigley told the BMA annual representative meeting that the bill would restore the NHS as an accountable public service and reverse 25 years of marketisation.

‘Scotland and Wales have already reversed marketisation and restored their NHS without immense upheaval. England can too,’ he said.

‘The bill reinstates the secretary of state’s responsibility for the provision of services, something the Health and Social Care Act 2012 severed. It would strip away the costly market mechanisms that waste NHS money, which could be spent on patient care.’


'Lost cause'

However, Teeside specialty trainee 2 in public health Zoe Greaves said that many of the aims of the bill could be achieved without primary legislation – and warned that it would be the single largest reorganisation of the NHS since its inception.

‘I’ve had enough of wholesale, top-down reorganisation. This would take us back more than 25 years,’ she told the meeting in Liverpool.

She was backed by BMA consultants committee chair Paul Flynn who said that in any case, private members' bills had little chance of becoming law.

‘We don’t need another complete reorganisation, and make no mistake, if enacted, this would be the mother of all reorganisations, costing time, money and staff morale.

London GP Louise Irvine said the NHS Bill was in line with BMA policy, and it would be a way of putting policy ‘off the paper, and into reality’.

BMA council chair Mark Porter said that while many BMA policies were in the bill, there were also BMA policies against those in the bill. Agreeing to lobby for it would mean ‘a huge re-diversion of BMA effort in terms of what we lobby for’, he added.

Doctors and medical students narrowly supported the bill, but rejected a call for the BMA to lobby for it to be adopted by the Government.

Find out more about the BMA ARM 2015