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Medicopolitical Digest

The BMA's annual representative meetingGMC asked to re-examine 1999 election

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 17 July 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:193

The BMA's annual representative meeting

News p 141

BMA reiterates support for NHS principles

The BMA has reiterated its support for the founding principles of the NHS—namely, that it should be comprehensive, free at the point of delivery, and available to all. And it has once again turned its face against NHS charges.

Dr Jonathan Reggler (Buckinghamshire) failed to persuade the meeting that user fees should be introduced for patients at the point of delivery of some NHS services. “The NHS is not the envy of the world, the state of the NHS is a disgrace,” he said. This was not the fault of the profession, nor of patients, not even of the government. The United Kingdom did not have the best service, it had the cheapest service in the developed world. No political party would be elected if it proposed increasing taxes, so fees for some services (with exemptions for the poor and people who were chronically sick) should be considered. Other countries had fees and morbidity had not increased.

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But other speakers opposed him. Dr Colin Smith (chairman of the Medical Academic Staff Committee), said that he never wanted to hear a patient say, “I cannot afford to see you again.” It would not be poor people supported by the welfare system who would suffer but those people just outside the welfare system.

“Just because the NHS is not meeting its ideals does not mean that we must let the government off the hook,” Dr Simon Fradd (local medical committee (LMC) conference) declared. “Two wrongs do not make a right.” He wondered what would happen to those people who refused to pay. The way forward was to educate the public and not to charge.

NHS reforms—more funds, less haste

The BMA found an ally last week in the Archbishop of Armagh, Lord Eames, the father and father in law of four doctors. In his …

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