Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations BMA Campaign

Stop wasting money on commercialising the NHS

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 10 March 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1357
  1. Hamish Meldrum, chairman, BMA Council
  1. HMeldrum{at}

    The drive to introduce private sector initiatives into the health service has resulted in waste and inefficiency

    In February the BMA launched to the general public its “Look after our NHS” campaign, which aims to stop the increasing commercialisation of our health service (BMJ 2010;340:c884, doi:10.1136/bmj.c884). This does not mean we believe that the private sector doesn’t have a role to play, but it should be used only in cooperation with existing NHS services and in circumstances where the NHS cannot fulfil a key requirement for patients. Unfortunately the NHS at the moment is being submitted to a programme of reckless commercialisation that threatens to undermine the principles on which it was founded.

    The response to our campaign from Civitas and other pro-market groups was predictably hostile. Accompanying the vitriolic attacks on the BMA was a rosy picture of a healthcare system where the NHS and private providers compete on an equal footing for the custom of patients—with the tacit implication that this arrangement allows the private sector to deliver a whole host of benefits and innovations that the sluggish public sector cannot.

    At the centre …

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