Intended for healthcare professionals

Reviews Personal views

Where are the medical voices raised in protest?

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 21 September 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:660
  1. Ian Greener, senior lecturer (
  1. Centre for Public Policy and Management, Manchester Business School

    Aneuran Bevan, having to create the NHS in the face of medical opposition, famously claimed to have stuffed consultants' mouths with gold, splitting the medical profession and giving himself the leverage to create the health service he envisaged. The GPs continued to resist Bevan's plans over concerns that he might try to make their profession salaried, but on the appointed day the NHS appeared as promised. The health service was founded on the principle (or “concordat”) that the government would fund health care but leave its operational running to the doctors.

    Doctors say they no longer have the will or power to stop reforms

    Nearly 60 years later we find ourselves with a government committed to changing Bevan's NHS to a form its founder would surely struggle to recognise. The medical professions—such hard negotiators during the NHS's creation—have become the ones we look to first to preserve what is valuable in the NHS. The doctors, through the royal colleges and the BMA, have a long history of blocking reform that could damage their professional interests or that might adversely affect patient care. In the …

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