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BMA votes to back Gerada over commissioning fears

By Alisdair Stirling

The BMA and a coalition of other key medical bodies will voice their opposition to the Government's health reforms in an open letter to health secretary Andrew Lansley, Pulse has learned.

The move follows a near-unanimous vote at last week's BMA council meeting backing new RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada's stance over the white paper reforms, and signals the start of a concerted campaign against the changes by the medical profession.

Dr Gerada, who succeeded Dr Steve Field as college chair last month, told Pulse last month that GPs risked being 'corralled and de-professionalised' by the Government's commissioning plans, and subsequently told the Guardian newspaper on the eve of taking up her new role that the reforms meant 'the end of the NHS as we currently know it'. She has also criticised plans to shift value-for-money decisions about medicines from NICE to GP consortia.

A BMA spokesperson confirmed the BMA council had passed a motion saying they 'shared some of Dr Gerada's concerns'. Council members also supported a move to involve medical colleges, including the RCGP, in writing an open letter to Andrew Lansley jointly voicing those concerns.

BMA sources told Pulse that council members had reservations about publicly joining forces with other organisations because of autonomy issues. However BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum is understood to be planning on consulting other bodies that have voiced concerns over the reforms, including the NHS Confederation.

Dr Helena McKeown, a GP in Salisbury and member of BMA Council, said: ‘The council voted that we were in support of Dr Gerada's remarks in the recent Guardian article, and the BMA are going to lead on getting a letter signed by leaders of the profession about the concerns that we have about the white paper.'

‘The council agreed that the BMA would approach other leaders of the medical profession to write a letter expressing their concerns over the white paper. I think it's going to be an open letter to the secretary of state. We shared her concerns.'

‘We voted to pass a resolution to support the concerns expressed by the RCGP about the white paper. We voted against a public statement of support, but for an open letter with other professional leaders expressing concerns.'

Dr David Wrigley, a GP in Carnforth, Lancashire and also a member of BMA council, said: 'There was a push for an open letter signed by all the eminent members of the medical profession. Basically, the more the better to get the message across.'

BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum is understood to be consulting other bodies that have voiced concerns over the reforms, including the NHS Confederation BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum is understood to be consulting other bodies that have voiced concerns over the reforms, including the NHS Confederation Essential Commissioning Skills

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