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BMA hits out against 'politically motivated' GP access targets

The BMA is calling for doctors to have more of a say in how the NHS is run, with new research revealing three quarters of the public believe politicians are designing health policy to win votes.

Doctors should be allowed to lead decisions on how care is delivered, the BMA said, as politicans are ‘lining up’ to announce vote-winning pledges to improve GP access without addressing the root of general practice’s problems.

The call follows an IPSOS MORI public opinion poll, commissioned by the BMA ahead of its Annual Representatives Meeting in Harrogate this week, which showed that the public think doctors should play a larger role in NHS decision making than politicians, or NHS managers.

The poll of nearly 2000 UK adults found that two thirds think doctors should have a greater say in how the NHS is run. 55% thought doctors should be highly involved in the NHS decision making process, compared to 34% for NHS managers and 11% for politicians – and almost three quarters of the public thought politicians were designing health policy to win votes, rather than to improve the NHS.

And, only one third of the public thought Parliament should be setting overall targets for the NHS.

BMA Council chair Dr Mark Porter said that with the election looming politicians were making pledges to appeal to voters rather than addressing the challenges facing the health service.

Dr Porter said: ‘The Government promised to remove micromanagement from the NHS and yet the opposite has happened. There are even claims that NHS England, set up to be independent of Whitehall, is being manipulated for political purposes.’

‘Now, a year out from the next election, we’re already seeing politicians lining up politically motivated, not clinically driven changes to GP services.’

‘Demands to offer appointments within 48-hours, or to increase access to seven days a week might look good on a leaflet but they don’t address the challenges that have left GPs struggling to deliver the care, time and appointments their patients need.’

He added: ‘It is time to allow doctors to do what they do best - lead the delivery of high quality patient care.’

The Prime Minister recently announced the winning bids for a £50m Challenge Fund, aimed as improving GP access by piloting seven day working and telehealth schemes.

The Labour party has also announced that if they won at the next election they would reintroduce the 48-hour waiting time target for GP appointments, and were considering making it a contractual requirement.

Readers' comments (7)

  • Why don`t the BMA , have a camapaign that every GP could do. A day of this is what your visit to your GP has costs. letting every patient coming know the cost of that consiltation, the cost of their medication the cost of their surgery, vs what the average person pays in tax for the NHS?
    You could also show them and compare other countries insurance based systems. We really should be informing our patients that the recent independant study has shown the NHS is the best in the world, and there is a good chance if the train keeps running with MP`s driving its going to derail.

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  • "Almost three quarters of the public thought politicians were designing health policy to win votes..."
    The other quarter clearly need their bumps feeling!
    What else do politicians do??

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  • Vinci Ho

    No political party will really let NHS to go 'independent' and run its own business . At least , the treasurer will always hold back the funding and resources.
    Poll like this merely shows people have lot more trust in doctors than politicians. Bottom line is doctors are still ordinary citizens with no political power.
    We will always say what we want to say as part of this ongoing battle against politicians but..........

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  • Vinci Ho - agree completely - and to be fair, that is how it should be as long as we have a centrally run public NHS. We cannot run a multi billion pound service - to work out how much is to be spent needs the infrastructure of the Department of Health. It would be nice however if a bit more thought about long term planning was done rather than political posturing - especially the constant briefing agaionst us in the media.

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  • I don't know Vinci. Today alone I hard "urgent" consultations for threadworm, eczema which is a little worse then usual but run out of freebie moisturizer on NHS, extra 11 app created to accommodate people who feels unwell but 1/2 of them complained and asked why can't they discuss several other problems whilst they are here!

    Government is creating monster patients and I can see a drastic attitude in the patients - 10 years ago, most would have respected my words (despite being more junior then now) and acepted the limitation. Now every other is threat of complaint or law suit.........

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  • 6.08pm I agree with you
    Theres often a lot of talk about everything being politicians fault...but it's the population of this country who vote these people in and an increasingly significant minority are of these people make unreasonable demands for things they their taxes don't cover..with little respect for anyone or anything other than their own selfish wants..if the NHS is struggling the big undiscussed elephant in the room is the selfish, demanding, unresliant underbelly of the population , who expect everything for nothing ..as a right..with no feeling that they need to contribute anything at all, and with no personal responsibility or allegance to the people they expect to deliver so much for them.

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  • Vinci Ho

    There is Chinese saying :
    The water can let the boat travel smoothly but the water can also overturn the boat .

    The critical question is still how the captain steers the boat ..........

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