The health secretary has criticised the BMA over its proposed legal challenge over patient access to prospective GP records via the NHS app.
Lumping the action – which never took place – in with strike action by junior doctors and consultants over pay, Steve Barclay today accused the BMA of not being on patients’ side.
But Mr Barclay told the Tory party conference: ‘They are even threatening to take the Government to court over our plans to let patients see their own test results on their own phones, rather than taking up a GP appointment.
‘This clearly shows that the BMA leadership is not on the side of change, and they are not on the side of patients.’
The BMA also voiced its dissatisfaction with the health secretary today, by pitching a rally just meters away from the conference venue in Manchester.
Hundreds of people joined the protest and held banners reading ‘claps don’t pay the bills’ and ‘£14/hour is not a fair wage for a junior doctor’.
Mr Barclay told the conference: ‘Every step of the way we have faced opposition from the usual suspects when we are trying to do the best for patients.
‘You probably saw some of them on your way in this morning. The militant BMA leadership – whose strikes have resulted in countless cancelled appointments and pose a serious threat to the NHS’s recovery from the pandemic.
‘Their consultants and junior doctors committees are relentlessly demanding massive pay rises.
‘Even if that means diverting resources from patients. And despite junior doctors having already received a pay rise of up to 10.3%.’
However, the BMA’s consultants’ committee today offered an ‘olive branch’ to the Government over strikes, by saying it would be willing to involve conciliation service Acas to mediate the ongoing dispute.
Consultants are currently jointly striking with junior doctors, lasting from 7am yesterday (Monday 2 October) through to 7am on Thursday (5 October).
But in a letter to the Prime Minister, BMA consultants committee chair Dr Vishal Sharma, said: ‘Everyone wants this dispute to end – your Government’s refusal even to talk to us about pay is coming at a huge cost to all involved. Patients have been clear: findings from our recent public survey reveal that a majority believes the Government should reopen pay talks and use the funds associated with covering industrial action to settle the pay dispute.
‘Our peers have been clear: NHS system leaders are routinely calling for negotiations to progress. And we have been clear: meet us and find a way forward before more strike action is called.’
Chief executive of NHS Providers Sir Julian Hartley said: ‘Something has to give. We can’t go into another “full on” winter with the threat of more strikes hanging over the NHS. We have said before that we would welcome all sides using an intermediary like ACAS if that helps to break the deadlock.
‘Care delayed by strikes is putting more patients at greater risk and making it well-nigh impossible for the NHS to reduce growing waiting lists as the government wants.’