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Meldrum in war of words after ‘politically poisoned’ remark by Lansley

Health secretary Andrew Lansley has hit back over opposition to the Government’s NHS reforms, by quoting Aneurin Bevan who branded the BMA ‘politically poisoned’ for opposing NHS reform.

The comments provoked a backlash from BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum who condemned Mr Lansley’s ‘inflammatory remarks’ and said the reforms threatened to ‘fragment and disrupt patient care across our health service’.

According to newspaper reports, Mr Lansley compared his own fight over the health bill to the struggles of Labour politician Aneurin Bevan to establish the NHS in 1948 in a speech at the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.

He said: ‘Look back to 1948 when the BMA denounced Aneurin Bevan as “a would-be Führer” for wanting them to join a National Health Service.’

‘And Bevan himself described the BMA as “politically poisoned people”. A survey at the time shows only 10% of doctors backed the plans.’

Responding to Mr Lansley’s remarks, Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of BMA Council, said: ‘It is a shame that the health secretary has decided to repeat a seventy year old myth.’

‘The BMA called for a national medical service decades before the Government established the NHS in 1948.’

‘Doctors’ opposition to parts of what was proposed at the time was related to the detail of the then Government’s initial plans for how the system would operate, not to the principle of a publicly funded and comprehensive service that was free at the point of use for all patients.’

‘The Secretary of State should refrain from making inflammatory remarks and instead listen to the warnings coming not just from the BMA, but from a wide range of health care professionals and patients.’