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banner Saturday, 30 June, 2001, 23:11 GMT 00:11 UK
Doctors square up to NHS reforms
Doctors will set out their position on the government's plans for the health service
Doctors will set out their position on the government's plans for the health service
Doctors will this week decide whether they will continue criticising the government's plans for the NHS.

Before the election, doctors appeared to be squaring up for battle with the government.

Now the Labour government has begun its second term with a huge parliamentary majority determined to push through a raft of changes.

The British Medical Association (BMA) starts its annual conference in Bournemouth on Monday at a time when the way unions deal with public service reform tops the political agenda.

Resources demand

During the election campaign, the BMA announced that a ballot of GPs had shown over half would resign from the NHS next April if contract negotiations are not concluded satisfactorily.

Dr Ian Bogle, chairman of the BMA council
BMA council's Dr Ian Bogle is to outline his thoughts
At their conference last month, GPs criticised the government's NHS reforms outlined in last July's NHS Plan, saying they could not be delivered without significant extra resources.

Dr John Chisholm, chairman of the BMA's GPs committee, said: "All over the UK, GPs are facing a daily struggle to give their patients the high quality care they need while coping with a stream of government initiatives and woefully insufficient resources."

Consultants are also in contractual wranglings with the government - particularly over the government's proposal to ban them from doing private work for the first seven years.

Consultants' leader Dr Peter Hawker told the senior doctors' conference in June: "We are pressurised to rush through patient numbers, to hit politically-inspired targets, to provide politicians with soundbite headlines with targets reached."

The government's plans for the health service - including the highly contentious proposal to allow the private sector to run services in the NHS - are all set to be debated at the forthcoming conference.

'No confidence' motion

Last year, the BMA passed a motion of no confidence in the General Medical Council.

This year, doctors are set to debate a motion "reaffirming support for the council.

They will also debate a motion of no confidence in the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, which was set up by the government to decide which drugs should be available on the NHS.

Other motions which are listed for debate include looking at whether pregnant women who smoke should be invited to go to clinics to help them quit.

Doctors will also discuss a proposal for emergency contraception to be available free from pharmacists.

The "morning-after pill", Levonelle-2, which can be taken up to 72 hours after intercourse, currently costs 19.99 over-the-counter.

But a separate motion argues emergency contraception should not be given out in schools without medical supervision.

The BMA is also set to discuss:

  • The "exaggerated response" of politicians and "biased reporting" in the media of medical controversies
  • If police surgeons should have the legal power to take blood samples to test for drug and alcohol levels from drivers who are unconscious after an accident

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See also:

20 Jun 01 | Health
GPs blast NHS reform plans
31 May 01 | Health
Doctors lambast Labour on NHS
01 Jun 01 | Vote2001
GPs ready to quit NHS
20 Feb 01 | Health
Doctors clash with government
28 Jun 01 | Health
Bid to cut injury deaths
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