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BMA delegates in plea for electronic vote on key motion amid ‘intimidation’ fears

By Ian Quinn

Exclusive: GP representatives have called for a key vote on outright opposition to the Government's NHS reforms to be held by electronic ballot, amid mounting tension at today's BMA Special Representative Meeting.

Pulse has learned that some representatives are demanding an electronic vote on the conference's key motion this afternoon, which will debate whether the BMA should oppose the health bill ‘in its entirety' and asks it to consider ‘what forms of action should be taken by the medical profession'.

It comes amid a warning from a GPC member that representatives could be ‘intimidated' by a public show of hands.

Earlier BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum urged representatives not to ‘tie the hands' of negotiators by backing a vote for all-out opposition.

GPC council member Dr Helena McKeown told Pulse: ‘We've asked to have an electronic vote on the issue because we're worried that otherwise representatives may be intimidated.'

‘I feel that if members vote the same way as they did this morning [in calling for the Governemnt to withdraw the bill], that we will be voting to chuck the whole thing out.'

Dr McKeown said that the mood of the conference had sent a strong message to the Government. ‘We are going to throw out this legislation, or at least we're going to try to.'

However GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said he did not believe this morning's decision to call for the Government to withdraw the bill amount to the death knell for the BMA's policy of ‘critical engagement', and said the GPC still believed that it was best to work to improve and amend the bill rather than throw it out.

Pulse has learned that the first debate this afternoon on GP commissioning has also been subject to a furious behind-the-scenes row, with opponents of the NHS reforms within the BMA piling pressure on those behind a motion backing GPs' involvement in commissioning.

Campaigners against the reforms fear the Government could seize on the motion – which expresses support for ‘the principles of clinician-led commissioning' – to claim wider support for the health bill.

Dr Ron Singer, president of the Medical Practitioners' Union and a GPC member, said he and his supporters would be voting against the motion, claiming that health secretary Andrew Lansley had ‘bastardised' the term GP commissioning.

BMA delegates in plea for electronic vote on key motion amid ‘intimidation' fears Click here for all our coverage from the meeting SRM Watch Dr Hamish Meldrum's SRM address

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