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In the grip of spin

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 17 July 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:200
  1. Kamran Abbasi
  1. BMJ

    “Congratulations, Mr Blair, you have managed to alienate the whole profession,” stormed Dr Ian Bogle, chairman of the BMA council, in Belfast on Monday 5 July. The lack of consultation over NHS structural changes, low morale, the private finance initiative, and the enduring crisis over junior doctors' pay and working conditions were enough reasons for delegates to reward Dr Bogle's attack on the government with a standing ovation at the BMA's annual representative meeting. But the subtext of his opening day speech was anger at New Labour's doctors of spin. “We don't want spin with a grin. We don't want smile with guile,” fumed Dr Bogle, who even managed to look a picture of glumness in the following day's newspapers. Ironically, it was the first blast in the war of spin that reached its height in the middle of the week.

    On 6 July, Dr Bogle's speech had seized the initiative. “BMA's dire warnings must not be ignored,” warned the Express, “The worst thing the government can do is fail to listen to the doctors.” The Sun's health correspondent, Lisa Reynolds, was more blunt: “Doctors yesterday launched a scathing attack on Tony Blair's handling of the health service …

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