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Last Updated: Monday, 25 June 2007, 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK
Doctors 'feel they are targeted'
By Nick Triggle
Health reporter, BBC News

Surgeon
One motion says the government has ignored doctors' views
Doctors feel under attack from the government, the leader of the British Medical Association says.

Dr Sam Everington, BMA acting chairman, said the government had lost the support of many NHS staff, who now felt they were just financial commodities.

Speaking at the start of the BMA annual conference in Torquay, he urged incoming prime minister Gordon Brown to listen to the profession.

It comes ahead of a series of critical motions at the four-day meeting.

One of the first motions says the government has showed a "contemptuous disregard" for the views of doctors.

Vocation, dedication and lifetime commitment to patients and the NHS has little value in this new world - we are just financial commodities
Dr Sam Everington
BMA acting chairman

This has resulted in reforms which are "not fit for purpose" and damaging care.

Other motions set to be debated include criticism of the government's use of the private sector and closure of A&E units to save money.

Doctors will also debate a call for the NHS to be removed from direct political control by setting up an independent board to run the health service.

A survey of the public by the BMA, released on Sunday, found four in 10 did not think the NHS had improved under Labour.

Quitting medicine

Dr Everington said many junior doctors were leaving the profession over the botched introduction of new training and job application system.

He said GPs had been given no pay rise for the second year running despite providing excellent services.

And he added consultants were facing "real threats of redundancies due to ill-thought-through plans for hospital reconfiguration".

Dr Everington said: "Doctors feel under attack, the government wants to turn everything into something that has just a monetary value.

"Vocation, dedication and lifetime commitment to patients and the NHS has little value in this new world - we are just financial commodities."

And in a personal message to Mr Brown, he said: "Listen to us not because we are doctors but because we have given a lifetime of service to patients in the NHS - we are their champions."

Delegates at the conference passed a vote of no confidence in England's chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson, and called for his immediate resignation.

Jo Hilbourne, chairman of the BMA's junior doctors committee, said he had done a "grave disservice" to junior doctors by being distant over the issue.

Doctors will also raise concerns about public health issues such as obesity.

Obesity

A motion has been put forward calling for obesity in the under-12s to be considered parental neglect.

Concern will also be raised about the rising number of alcohol-related deaths, with a proposal for the legal age for buying alcohol in shops to be raised to 21, although pubs could still serve those aged 18 and over.

Doctors will also debate whether to call for a ban on the drinking of alcohol in streets.

Abortion laws will also come under the microscope with a proposal put forward to allow terminations in the first trimester on an "informed consent" basis, scrapping the rule that requires two doctors to agree on the procedure.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "There are now more doctors than ever before, being paid more than ever before and doing more for patients than ever before, and we regularly consult with them on how best to improve our NHS services for the future.

"This is about patient experience, not monetary value. We recognise all the incredible work that hospital doctors and GPs do up and down the country, with services that are now more effective than ever."


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