NHS must be 'preferred provider' say BMA
- Published on Tuesday, 28 June 2011 11:55
- Posted by Scott Buckler
Commissioning bodies in England should be required to use local NHS services as their ‘preferred provider’, doctors agreed at the British Medical Associations Annual Conference (June 28th)
The conference reiterated its support for BMA policy by stating its opposition to ‘the privatisation and fragmentation of the NHS into a multitude of competing providers with the potential to destabilise pivotal hospital services’.
Lincolnshire associate specialist in anaesthesia Anthea Mowat said even though the government in England had announced an altered role for Monitor - which will no longer ‘promote competition’ - this had not yet happened through amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill.
She said it was important for doctors at the ARM to ‘make our voices heard’ as the changes were made.
The meeting agreed that the NHS should be the preferred provider unless local services could not provide the services or capacity required.
However, doctors stopped short of supporting Dr Mowat’s call for a payment system to incentivise collaboration between healthcare providers.
West Glamorgan consultant in public health Mark Temple urged delegates not to support the call to incentivise collaboration, saying: ‘That’s not collaboration, that’s a market.’
BMA council chairman Hamish Meldrum said he agreed, particularly in light of the BMA’s opposition to the quality premium, which suggests financial rewards for clinical commissioning groups that remain within budget while improving health outcomes.
Doctors also called on the BMA to ensure there were appropriate safeguards to prevent local variation in care leading to a postcode lottery, and for patients to be treated equitably.
Population needs v individual needs
Salisbury GP Helena McKeown argued that more local level decision-making could lead to greater differences in provision but it was better for local doctors to be in charge.
‘Clinical commissioning has the potential to prevent the slash and burn cuts that we are currently seeing,’ she said. ‘Take your pick. Do you want slash and burn targets set by bureaucrats or do you want clinical prioritisation?’
Birmingham consultant psychiatrist Reinhard Heun said there was a ‘tension’ between population needs and individual patient needs.
Professor Heun warned: ‘I doubt that local commissioning could make everybody happy; it will lead to complaints and costly legal battles.’