Date Published: 14 August 2006

BMA response to the Civitas report

Health News from the United Kingdom (UK).
Health News from the United Kingdom (UK).

Commenting today, on the Civitas report (by The Institute for the study of civil society), Deputy Chairman of the Consultants Committee, Dr Jonathan Fielden, said it was not true that the extra funds invested in the NHS had been wasted but he agreed that more improvements were needed.

He added:

" The BMA does not agree that the billions ploughed into the NHS in recent years have been largely wasted. However much more progress could have been made without the diversion of funds into poor value for money schemes such as PFI, ISTCs and blind faith in the benefits of market orientated healthcare.

As the Civitas report says waiting times have fallen in a number of specialties including cancer care and heart disease. Patients in England no longer have to wait months or even years for hip replacements. These achievements, overwhelmingly produced by the NHS not the independent sector, can hardly be described as a waste of money.

The best results have been seen where trusts have worked in partnership with their senior staff; consultants, GPs, nurses and other staff working together, across boundaries for the greater benefit of patients. Merely following political whim or "gaming" are inherent risks of a target based management culture.

The chronic under-investment for years in the health service had to be reversed, taking much of the funding that could have come to frontline care. It is, however the pursuit of market based healthcare that has diverted too much of the welcome extra funding down an expensive blind alley. It is a course the government seems determined to pursue despite this further evidence of the failure of its course of action.

In particular market based reforms lead funding away from critical areas such as mental health and long term care which are deteriorating by international standards.

The fundamental incoherence of current government policies have led to lack of engagement, frustration and low morale amongst doctors. At a time when the UK is critically short of doctors we are hearing about NHS trusts making healthcare staff redundant in order to balance their books. Another marker of the detriment which current policy is having on the NHS.

There is certainly a long way to go before we have the kind of NHS that patients and doctors want. The government needs to stop chasing market type reforms, stop avidly looking solely to the private sector for solutions and start working with doctors and senior NHS staff in partnership to bring the best the NHS can deliver to all areas of the service. Consultants have led on delivering reductions in waiting times and continue to introduce new treatments for patients the government must listen and involve us if it is truly interested in a high quality NHS."

Source: British Medical Association, UK

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