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BMA push to stop big business hold on NHS

Doctors' leaders are campaigning to stop the increasing profits being made by commercial companies from their provision of NHS care in England

British Medical Association (BMA) members will be urged to involve their patients and the public in the fight against the increasing role of commercial companies in the provision of NHS care in England.

The Look After Our NHS campaign website is being revamped, and sets of publicity materials are currently being sent to doctors, practice managers and local negotiating chairs in England from next week.

A brochure will explain to doctors the issues concerning the market in healthcare, including its negative impact on patient care. It will examine why involving big business in healthcare provision can lead to extra expense and divert money from patients to shareholders. The brochure sets out why the 'patient choice' agenda could have a negative impact on services. It points out that hospitals lose out financially when patients go elsewhere, and could be forced to close departments – or close down altogether – as a result.

There are also Look After Our NHS groups on the social networking media sites Twitter and Facebook

BMA council chairman Hamish Meldrum said: "This is the next stage in our campaign to persuade the three main political parties in England to move away from market-based policies and adopt a more constructive and cooperative approach to the delivery of healthcare rather than one based on competition and fragmentation.

"There is little evidence that competition between providers has driven up quality or pushed down cost. Instead we've had a series of expensive reforms such as the private finance initiative and payment by results, together with hundreds of millions being spent on management consultants – all at a time when, more than ever, the NHS needs to ensure that we protect money for frontline services."

The BMA is urging doctors to:

  • Make sure the public leaflets and posters are displayed in public areas such as waiting rooms (extras can be ordered free of charge)
  • Point people in the direction of the campaign website for more information and details about how they can get involved
  • Complete a simple campaign questionnaire and urge patients to respond to a separate mini-poll in the leaflet
  • Talk to patients, staff and colleagues about the issues
  • Raise the campaign at meetings
  • Include the Look After Our NHS campaign web address and the message 'stop big business profiting from our NHS' on outgoing emails.

  • The campaign points out that patients are unlikely to be aware of the potentially far-reaching impact of their 'choices' and that few patients would willingly choose an option that might undermine future access for treatment (emergency or non-emergency) at a properly resourced local district hospital. It also highlights the lack of any option for patients to insist upon care and resources being kept in-house and local.

    The BMA has developed eight principles for its ideal NHS, including a preference for care to be delivered through cooperation not competition, and for it to be led by healthcare staff in partnership with patients and the public.


    24th February 2010

    From: Healthcare


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