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News BMA annual representative meeting, Belfast, 26 June to 29 June

Doctors blame untested policies for financial crisis in the NHS

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 29 June 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:9
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. Belfast

    Doctors at the BMA's annual meeting of representatives in Belfast have blamed the government for the financial crisis in the NHS, saying that it has taken a record amount of money away from the care of patients and “squandered” it on unproved reforms.

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    James Johnson, the BMA's chairman, addresses the annual representative meeting in Belfast last week


    “This financial crisis has nothing to do with diversionary talk of increases in doctors' pay or profligate spending by NHS trusts. It's a result of [the] government's own making—with relentless ideological reforms that have misappropriated billions away from patient care,” said a Middlesex GP and a member of the General Practitioners Committee of the BMA, Chaand Nagpaul.

    “[It is] lamentable that this once in a lifetime investment opportunity is being squandered in front of our eyes, leaving the NHS with cuts in services and staff and unable to afford cancer treatments available in other countries,” he added.

    Dr Nagpaul was speaking at an open debate on values and funding in the NHS. He said that an estimated £1.5bn (€2.2bn; $2.7bn) had been spent on “perpetual reorganisation” within the NHS, £1bn had been paid to private management consultants, such as those called in to help debt ridden NHS trusts, and £14bn had been overspent on the NHS information technology programme.

    “The government cannot act with impunity. It must be held to account for its ideological, nonevidence based policies being the single greatest cause in bringing the NHS into financial standstill,” Dr Nagpaul said.

    Jacky Davis, a consultant radiologist at the Whittington Hospital NHS Trust in north London, told the conference that last year the government had spent £33bn on centrally funded initiatives “that do not impact on patient care,” such as the Modernisation Agency and NHS University.

    Meanwhile, other representatives attacked the private finance initiative for new hospitals and the introduction of practice based commissioning.


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