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BMA plans public information campaign over potential damage from NHS reforms

Exclusive The BMA is preparing a public information campaign to help GPs inform patients about the dangers of the Government’s NHS reforms, Pulse can reveal.

The move comes after legal concerns meant the BMA had to abandon the idea of asking GPs to offer patients a pledge card to ensure they would always be referred to public NHS providers where possible.

The cards were branded ‘divisive’ by private health providers, and plans were put on the back burner in November because BMA lawyers warned that GPs or the BMA could be sued by private healthcare providers as a result.

The BMA said it was still planning to help doctors communicate the impact of the Government’s changes to the NHS to the public, and that it was currently developing resources to do this.

A spokesperson said: ‘We still believe that doctors and the BMA have a role to play in communicating the impacts of the changes to the NHS to the public.’

‘Although the principles and motivations behind the pledge card idea were supported at BMA Council, there were concerns about some elements of the practicalities.

‘We are developing resources for the public designed to inform them about the changes currently taking place in the NHS.’

BMA Council member and hospital consultant Dr Clive Peedell, who lobbied for the BMA to back the pledge card, said that they were trying to ‘resuscitate’ the plans in a different form.

He told Pulse: ‘It is not completely quashed and it is being looked at by our political and economic research units and legal team.

‘I thought the risk was low but they thought they thought that there was a risk and therefore they couldn’t put that onto GPs so they are looking at other ways of doing it.

‘That is still in the pipeline at the moment, in terms of not necessarily a pledge card but some way of doing it whereby GPs wouldn’t be under any legal threats or getting the BMA into hot water.’

It comes after Dr Peedel and another doctor ran 35 miles dressed as Prime Minister David Cameron and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg to raise awareness of their objections to the Government’s NHS reforms.

There will be a crucial vote in the House of Lords on the 24 April attempting to block the Government’s controversial rules on competition for CCGs. The rules were redrafted in March due to opposition from commissioning leaders and the RCGP, but commissioning leaders still warn they will place unnecessary obligations on CCGs that will hinder their ability to put patients’ needs first.

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