BMA again calls for Bill withdrawal


The BMA has again called for the Health and Social Care Bill to be withdrawn or undergo further substantial amendments in a letter to peers in the House of Lords.

Although BMA Chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum recognises significant changes have already been introduced, he outlines how the Bill lacks clarity and how the reforms offer serious problems for the NHS.

In the letter, Dr Meldrum says “the BMA still believes the Bill, as it currently stands, poses an unacceptably high risk to the NHS in England”.

He adds that the proposed reforms will make it harder for the health service to “create the seamless, efficient care that everyone agrees is key to future sustainability”.

While the Association is not against all of the proposals in the Bill, it says the Government’s plans are the “most radical restructuring of the NHS in a generation”.

Ahead of the second reading of the Bill next Tuesday, the BMA believes the most pressing concerns the House of Lords needs to address are:

  • The need for an explicit provision that the Secretary of State will retain ultimate responsibility for health services
  • Assurance that increasing patients’ choice of provider for specific elements of care will not be given priority over the development of NHS services and fair access for all
  • Greater scrutiny of the plans to tackle underachieving hospitals

Concerns were also raised by Dr Meldrum about the threat to the capability of public health in the future; unnecessary and unhelpful bureaucracy around the development of CCGs and the NHS Commissioning Board; and the plans to abolish the income cap Foundation Trusts can generate from private patients.

The BMA’s letter follows a similar epistle from 400 public health experts who voiced their concerns over the reforms and called for Lords to reject the proposals.

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