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BMA leaders call for efficiency savings to be halted

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7045.1497 (Published 15 June 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:1497

British hospital doctors, public health doctors, and medical academic staff have all criticised the government's call for efficiency savings in the NHS.

The chairman of the BMA's consultants' committee, Mr James Johnson, called for a halt to efficiency cuts at the senior staffs' conference last week. “They are nothing more than a thinly veiled exercise in downsizing the hospital service,” he said. He referred to the experience of an Oxford neurosurgeon who had had to return a patient on whom he had just performed a craniotomy to the referring hospital because he had no access to postoperative neurosurgical care. “This is the stuff of Third World medicine,” Mr Johnson said. Hospitals which were efficient to begin with would have little scope to make further efficiency gains and certainly not to accomplish them year on year.

The consultants' leader said that when a hospital had to push through 3% more patients for the same money when there was no further scope for efficiency savings, the only recourse was to cut safety margins. “As doctors,” he said, “we have a duty to …

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