This bill gifts the NHS to the private sector like a cake to be sliced up amongst friends. A fact I reflected on sadly as I baked with my small children this weekend. An imperfect analogy no doubt, but it gives focus to the extraordinarily damaging impact this bill will have on the nation’s health. Insiders predict around 20 hospitals will be forced to close, as the private sector cherry picks profitable services from secondary care, rendering them financially unviable. Big business is waiting in the wings, indeed contracts have already been signed with global healthcare companies . PCTs have been dismantled and GPs bullied into compliance. All this and the bill is still in Parliament. So much for democracy.
After publication of the health White Paper last July, the BMA leadership ignored calls for a special meeting , declaring instead a strategy of critical engagement with government. However, as the dire consequences of the bill gradually became clear, the leadership looked increasingly isolated from a government patently ignoring its concerns and a membership clamouring to be heard. Around the country new BMA divisions mushroomed and the call crescendoed until the BMA leadership finally capitulated in January. The response has been enormous and 45 pages of motions from local divisions stand to be debated, all highlighting serious flaws in the bill and many demanding the BMA reject it outright.
But our Hackney BMA was denied entry. Several other new or reactivated BMA divisions were in the same position, being told that they hadn’t been in membership for long enough to vote. As the new divisions were formed to fight the bill, it appears that this strand of opinion is being systematically excluded. [Since this comment went up the BMA have agreed to allow voting rights to Hackney but we understand that other branches are still being excluded.]
As the Liberal democrats now turn against the bill, this meeting is our one real chance to unite as a profession in calling on the government to throw it out and save the NHS from an irreversible path to privatisation, fragmentation and destruction. Join us tomorrow in lobbying the BMA meeting from 9.15am onwards, with whatever banners, placards and friends you can muster: Grand Connaught Rooms, 61-63 Great Queen St, WC2. Be there, and be at the TUC march on 26 March to support us in protecting our NHS.