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BMA warns health bill is a ‘massive gamble’

By Nigel Praities

The BMA has said it will campaign against the introduction of 'price competition' into the NHS, after the Government published the detail of its health reforms.

In a strongly worded statement, the BMA said it supported the greater involvement of clinicians in planning NHS services, but that the reforms as they stand are a 'massive gamble'.

BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum said: 'The benefits that clinician-led commissioning can bring are threatened by other parts of the bill. In particular, the legislation will allow competition to be forced on commissioners, even when they believe the best and most appropriate services can be provided by local hospitals.'

'Forcing commissioners of care to tender contracts to any willing provider, including NHS providers, voluntary sector organisations and commercial companies, could destabilise local health economies and fragment care for patients.'

'Adding price competition into the mix could also allow large commercial companies to enter the NHS market and chase the most profitable contracts, using their size to undercut on price, which could ultimately damage local services.'

'Commissioners should be free to choose the best and most appropriate providers, creating care pathways across hospital and community care boundaries, without fear of a legal challenge from private companies or the health regulator.'

'The BMA will examine the bill in great detail and will be lobbying very hard to amend the most damaging aspects of this legislation.'

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