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BMA Conference Sunday, 1 July, 2001, 18:47 GMT 19:47 UK
BMA chief calls for NHS funding clarity
GP speaks to woman in surgery
Doctors fear private involvement could be expensive
The leader of the UK's doctors has urged the government to clarify its plans for NHS funding.

Dr Ian Bogle, chairman of the British Medical Association, said the government is being "opaque and unclear" about its plans for private sector involvement in the NHS.

Dr Bogle urged ministers to clarify how private money and the independent healthcare sector will be used to build NHS hospitals and treat patients.

Dr Ian Bogle, chairman of the BMA council
Dr Ian Bogle: Wants to establish government intentions
And he warned that the use of private hospitals to treat NHS patients with NHS staff would still be limited by shortages of doctors and nurses.

Dr Bogle was speaking on the eve of the association's annual conference in Bournemouth.

A BMA discussion paper published on the same day said that some public-private partnerships could benefit patients and the health service.

But it stated that any moves towards privatising services should only go ahead if criteria ensuring proper investment, staffing levels and quality control targets are fulfilled.

Dr Bogle said: "What we are trying to do is not to close down any doors, but explore what might be reasonable, and move forward, and identify what might be unreasonable so we are in a position to argue against it.

"We realise that some of the government's thinking is opaque and unclear.

"It is time for the government to be a little less opaque on all its intentions."

'No to PFI'

Dr Bogle reaffirmed the BMA's opposition to the so-called Private Finance Initiative as an "expensive way of building".

He said it would lead to beds being cut to save money, "and so we are in a situation of higher costs and fewer beds than we need."

The conference comes at a time of apparently increasing militancy within the medical profession.

Hospital consultants are embroiled in negotiations with the government over new contracts and plans to ban newly-qualified specialists from doing private work for the first seven years of their careers.

GPs have threatened to resign en masse if agreement is not reached on their new contracts by next year.

Doctors have blamed increased workloads caused by government initiatives and chronic staff shortages for the low morale which they say is prevalent among their ranks.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Alison Holt
"Bed and staff shortages mean every day is a juggling act"
See also:

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