Page last updated at 13:12 GMT, Wednesday, 16 March 2011

PMQs: Cameron accused of ignoring BMA over NHS reforms

Labour has accused the government of "arrogance" for pushing ahead with NHS reforms despite recent criticism from the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Liberal Democrat spring conference.

At prime minister's questions on 16 March 2011, opposition leader Ed Miliband asked whether the PM would amend the plans in response to the demands of Lib Dem delegates calling for a halt to the "damaging and unjustified" shake-up of GP services in England.

Meanwhile the BMA described measures that would increase competition in the NHS as "dangerous and risky".

Mr Miliband accused Prime Minister David Cameron of "ignoring people who know something about the health service" and creating "a free-market free-for-all".

Mr Cameron said that the plans had been drawn up by both parties in the coalition government, arguing that they would improve the NHS by "cutting bureaucracy and improving patient care".

He told MPs that price competition in the NHS had been "ruled out", adding that he "completely agreed with" the Lib Dems "that we must avoid cherry-picking by the private sector in the NHS".

He told Mr Miliband: "Under the last Labour government the private sector was given £250m for operations that were never carried out."

The PM called on Labour to apologise for this "cherry-picking" and support the government's plans.

Mr Cameron also criticised the BMA for opposing foundation hospitals, GP fundholding, and longer opening hours for GP surgeries.

"Isn't it typical that, just as you have to back every other trade union, just as you have no ideas of your own, you just come here and read a BMA press release?

"How utterly feeble," the prime minister concluded.

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