A chance to send a real message
The BMA has taken up this issue because the annual representative meeting voted for a campaign against the Health and Social Care Act. BMA members have made it clear that they want the BMA to act to help limit the damaging effects of the act. This includes the accelerating takeover of NHS services by private corporations.
Many patients are concerned about the degree to which health services are being outsourced to private companies, which cherry-pick the profitable services and undermine the local NHS. Patients have a right to know what is going on and express a view about where they are referred, in a way that helps to keep local NHS services, such as our local hospitals, secure.
Of course, if there is no alternative except a private provider, or the patient wishes a private referral, or if it is in their best interests to go to a private provider, that would still happen. But where possible, and where it would not be detrimental to care, the patient pledge card would allow patients to express a preference for NHS-provided services. This card is to facilitate dialogue and to empower patients, as well as send a message up the line to CCGs about what patients think about this issue.
From Dr Marie-Louise Irvine - BMA Council member, Lewisham, south London