“Obstinate government" has forced senior doctors into conflict, says consultants leader

Published on Wednesday, 07 March 2012 15:58
Posted by Matthew Abbott

Hospital consultants have been forced to fight on two separate fronts - the Health and Social Care Bill in England and the breach of an agreement on their pensions - when what they really want is to improve patient care, the Chairman of the BMA’s Consultants Committee has said.

In a speech to the BMA’s annual conference of hospital consultants, Dr Mark Porter said that

“consultants have been pushed into conflict by a belligerent and obstinate government, when we would far rather be planning improvements in clinical services”.

He warned that huge challenges face secondary care, in particular the mounting evidence that patients are more likely to die if admitted as emergencies in the evening and at the weekend.

The government should be investing in new ways of working so that the delivery of care is consistent and yet “the tragedy is that doctors’ time and effort is being increasingly diverted away from seeking to improve patient care,” he said.

Dr Porter is very concerned that the majority of new consultant posts are now being advertised without the recommended time dedicated to supporting professional activities (SPAs). Consultants use SPAs to plan new, innovative services that improve quality.

He says “this is a wrong-headed and short-sighted approach. Consultants should not be prevented from working on quality improvement, and yet this is happening in today’s topsy-turvy NHS.”

 Dr Porter renewed the BMA’s call for the government to abandon the Health and Social Care Bill, which he described as “447 pages of unintelligible red tape”.

He added that most royal colleges, many patients and most of the public oppose the Bill and that “the Big Society is giving voice to its concerns. The Big Society says – enough of this. Mr Cameron, stop the Bill.”

Instead Dr Porter called on the government to “convene a consensual way forwards that includes those whose vocation is clinical care, rather than exclude us.”

In the wake of the BMA’s decision to ballot its members on industrial action over major changes to the NHS pensions scheme, Dr Porter urged the government to enter into meaningful talks to avert any disruption to the NHS.

While consultants feel “outraged” and “incensed” about the broken agreement over pensions, Dr Porter stressed that the BMA has ruled out strike action and is committed to ensuring that any action taken does not harm patients.

Source: British Medical Association

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