Date Published: 2 June 2010

BMA Consultants Chairman criticises lists of 'banned treatments'

Health News from the United Kingdom (UK).

The Chairman of the British Medical association (BMA)'s Consultants Committee has criticised lists of treatments “banned on the NHS", and said that cuts to services were being driven by “the quest for wholesale reductions in budgets”, despite being “clothed in the language of evidence.”

In a speech to the BMA’s annual consultants conference, Dr Mark Porter warned that despite the health budget being protected, cuts to front-line services are inevitable.

Dr Porter said:

Health is protected to some degree. And yet, what will this pledge to maintain health spending mean ? ”

Under pressure to achieve up to £20bn of efficiency savings by 2014, NHS trusts in England are compiling lists of treatments to be decommissioned or reduced, he said.

It is clear to me that this cannot be achieved by a few efficiencies and by creative accounting, but it is an inevitable conclusion that we will have to stop doing some things that our patients value. Already NHS commissioners are drawing up lists of health interventions that must be decommissioned. Cut. Stopped. Not done any more.

These lists are clothed in the language of evidence but they represent target reductions based on cost and volume, sometimes ignoring the potential benefit to individual patients. Instead, in the quest for wholesale reductions in budgets, lists of banned treatments are being compiled. This is wrong.

Calling on consultants to “go back to your hospitals and prepare to protect patient services”, Dr Porter said they would act as advocates for patients.

“Consultants must be involved in the discussions that lead to local service reductions. Painful though it is, we cannot stand aside and let the debate be conducted between management consultants and finance directors.”

Source: British Medical Association..

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