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BMA calls special representative meeting to discuss concerns over reforms

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 27 January 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d594
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. 1London

The BMA has called a Special Representative Meeting to debate the NHS reforms in England.

The BMA Council said it was appropriate to discuss the planned changes to the NHS now that the Health and Social Care Bill has been laid before parliament. The meeting will take place on 15 March. Representatives were last called to a special meeting in 1992 when John Major’s Conservative government was attempting to introduce NHS reforms whose central feature was the separation of purchasers from providers (BMJ 1992:304:920-21).

The council sets out its concerns over the reforms in a briefing published on 26 January. It calls for several amendments to the bill and says the government should halt all further implementation of the reforms while the legislation makes it way through parliament.

In particular the BMA says it is concerned about the enforcement of competition through Monitor’s new role as the economic regulator for the NHS and the “inappropriate” introduction of price competition between providers.

“Commissioning consortia should be able to place contracts with the most suitable providers without fear of being accused of anti-competitive behaviour,” says the briefing. “They should be free to design new clinical pathways built around integration of services, inclusivity and partnership.”

The risk is that price competition will “damage the ability of the NHS to provide services in the most efficient and cost-effective way. It will destabilise provision, and increase transaction costs, and will threaten the provision of essential local services.”

The BMA is also opposed to the idea that all NHS trusts should be forced to become foundation trusts by 1 April 2014—a move which it says “could distort priorities and drive trusts to place the achievement of this target above all others, including safe patient care.”

On the same day …

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