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BMA calls crisis conference to prevent health service 'collapse'

The BMA will hold a special representative meeting to discuss the deepening crisis facing the NHS.

Members of the BMA Council called for the ‘extraordinary’ conference, which will take place on 3 May in London, at a meeting today.

BMA council member and Lancashire GP Dr David Wrigley tweeted from the meeting, saying that UK doctors saw the NHS ‘collapsing’.

Dr Wrigley told Pulse: ‘The BMA council discussed the parlous state of the NHS due to the year-on-year funding cuts –- something which is a political choice made by this Government.

‘This extraordinary meeting will discuss the crisis in the NHS and attempt to come up with solutions, challenging our politicians to step in and rescue the NHS from collapse.’

BMA council member Dr Allyson Pollock, a medical academic, said in a tweet that the meeting would ‘highlight [the] NHS crisis in England and implications for UK public and patient[s]’.

A BMA spokesperson said: ‘I can confirm that a special representative meeting will be taking place and we will confirm further details in due course.’

The news follows the Special LMC Conference held by GP leaders in January, where GPs voted on potential mass resignations unless the Government produce a credible rescue package for general practice.

The BMA’s row with the Government escalates

The news of the special meeting comes as the BMA remains embroiled in a dispute with the Government over the imposition of the junior doctor contract, which has led to a series of strike actions over the past three months.

The BMA is bringing a judicial review to question whether the contract will be safe for patients but health secretary Jeremy Hunt has already declared that this is ‘bound to fail’.

Mr Hunt has said the contract imposition is necessary to ensure the rollout of safe and sustainable seven-day access to hospital treatment, but the BMA has in turn argued that it will overwork junior doctors and lead to more mistakes.

It also comes as BMA chair Dr Mark Porter condemned the lack of new investment in NHS services in today’s budget announcement as ‘disgraceful’.

According to Dr Porter, ‘the Government’s funding promises have simply not materialised’.


Readers' comments (46)

  • I am in the BMA. i have done the 80/168 hour shifts with little sleep. I think they are awful, too.
    But I am not sure what the BMA can actually do. Right, folks, give us a few ideas.
    What do you want the BMA to do? Walk away ? resign ? What precisely?

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  • Some posts on here question why the BMA should care about the state of the NHS. I disagree. I believe it should matter to doctors whether or not we have an NHS, and the state of that service. The NHS introduced a proper system of health care provision that not only enabled our patients to access good quality care regardless of ability to pay, but from a professional perspective it allowed our profession to develop - enabled the creation of systematic training programmes, development of a wide range of specialties, structures for clinical research, professional development and so on. Crucially too, the state of the NHS matters to our patients. The dismantling, erosion and underfunding of the NHS harms our patients and as doctors we have a duty to protect our patients. But there is a very personal way in which the state of the service matters to us as doctors - there is enormous life and job satisfaction from feeling we are doing a good job, within a system that properly funds, supports and values our work, and that works well for our patients. (I can vaguely remember when it felt like that). But what is the reality now for many of us? GPs, hospital docs, psychiatrists and so on, tearing their hair out because they know they can’t provide good quality safe service any more. Huge stress, clinical risk, reduced job satisfaction, worse pay, terms and conditions are the growing reality - just read some of the heartbreaking accounts of life as a junior doctor, or from GPs in good practices forced to hand back the keys as they can’t go on any longer. Isn’t privatisation damaging too? (Do the cynical posters here actually think Care UK or Virgin or any of the other private companies in the health care market would pay you better or offer better terms?). Think about all those clinical hours wasted on the contracting and bidding processes - a consultant friend of mine talked of spending a day a week helping his trust with clinical input to bid writing. I’m sure he’s not the only one! And the uncertainty of colleagues whose services are being put out to tender and the disruption that causes - from the dermatologists in Nottingham whose service was broken when the non urgent work was contracted out to Virgin, to the orthopaedic surgeons in Sussex whose ability to provide emergency orthopaedics was jeopardised when MSK was going to be contracted out to BUPA, to the sexual health doctors who see the damaging split between HIV care (remaining in NHS) and sexual health going to the likes of Virgin. To me there is a very strong link between the nature of the NHS as a well funded public service that provides good patient care and the interests of the medical profession. That’s why I have always fought for both. That’s why I got involved in the BMA as it’s my union and I want it to be an active campaigning union - that stands up for the profession and for patients - and that means standing up for the NHS. I see this SRM as an important moment to alert the public about what is happening to the NHS, to explore and elucidate the issues and evidence, and to discuss and debate ideas for the way forward, including the demands we make on government. But we won’t get this government or any future government to shift unless there is both a united profession and an awakened public. Cynics can sit at home. I prefer to try to do something.

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  • Down here it feels like the BMA hasn't been doing an awful lot since the Lansley reforms.To quote an LMC rep at the time It was a done deal and there was nothing that could be done to stop them.The can has been kicked too far down the road, the damage done to the NHS it has gone too far.We can try and fight but we are starting too late to make much difference to the outcome I feel.

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  • if I read another comment about how wonderful NHS is, I'm going to puke.
    In any case, NHS is not a concern for BMA, it is for the public. The voters decided who they want to govern over the issue, so get on with it. The BMA's role is to look after medical profession's interests. Reading these BMA members posts, I can't help but think, they will never get the message. Nothing will ever improve while the BMA leadership is blind and deaf to its grassroots.

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  • If the NHS is indeed collapsing, it might be helpful if the BMA could come up with some ideas how doctors could organise and work to earn a living without the NHS.

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  • Coral jones:
    Is the US system the only option?? Healthcare in France, Germany and scandinavia are much better than the NHS. Why just limit our vision to fear of the US system?? Protected time to treat patients is the main concern...10 mins consultation with loads of bureaucracy/ notes is the recipe for ruin.

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  • Whilst the Handwringing Committee are meeting on the poop deck, perhaps the rest of us should go and see if we can find the life rafts.

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  • I think it is excellent that the BMA have called this SRM. We need to make sure that we get some action out of it. No one can deny that the NHS faces an unprecedented crisis, it is kept going by the good will of those of us who work in it and this is not sustainable. George Osborne did nothing to plug the deficit in his budget yesterday. I totally disagree with those who say the NHS is gone or can't be saved. It can be, but it won't be if no one fights for it. Good on the BMA for organising this, the junior doctors have shown us how to fight, lets get on with it and lets save the NHS.

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  • no, let it go - collapse will end our suffering.

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  • Dear Marie-Louise Irvine please don't confuse the roles of a trade union with a public body. The primary role of BMA should be looking after the interests of its members and protecting the public and worrying about NHS should be the secondary roles. Hence the need to redefine priorities.

    Jackie Appleby, Doctors and GPs have been waiting for the BMW to lead the way and come up with some genuine solutions. All they ever get is more talk and no walk.
    Frankly, I am under no delusions that NHS could be salvaged. BMA should stop burying it's head in the sand and try to guide the doctors esp the junior ones so that they could have the best possible chance in this critical phase of their careers. I am not holding my breath for any significant change though.

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