25th June 2013 

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Something to resign from!      
News and Comment from Roy Lilley

Doctors are marked out by their ability to study, stamina, education and intellect.  They are also marked out by their complete inability to organise themselves and appoint, from amongst their number, leaders that achieve anything.


Hamish Medrum, the BMA boss during the hiatus of LaLite's reform nightmare danced around his handbag.  On the one hand this and on the other hand that.  He never learned the BMA policy of 'Constructive Engagement', when it comes to dealing with the DH, was the ultimate oxymoron.


Most BMA leaders leave with a knighthood.  Meldrum went, leaving us a nightmare.


Now the BMA has a new leader.  He (I should think a woman stands no chance) has such an imposing presence on the landscape of healthcare I had to look-up who it was.  It turns out it is Dr Mark Porter.  Not this one.  This one.


The BMA is enjoying its annual thrash in Edinburgh.  The impressive conference centre is about a �15 taxi ride from the airport or �3.50 on the AirLink bus.  It's a bit of a trek to Edinburgh just to vote another vote of no confidence in LaLite.  I doubt he gives a tinker's cuss.


At a previous conference Porter had called on consultants to "... go back to your hospitals and prepare to protect patient services."   This time the message seems to be; 'Go back to your hospitals and prepare to start charging patients'.


This will be the BMA who threatened to go on strike over their pensions?  This will be the BMA whose members don't open at weekends?  This will be the BMA whose members close at precisely the time the public is coming home from work and don't open until they've gone.  This will be the BMA whose members are fighting the rear-guard action to prevent their performance databeing published?  This will be the BMA whose members are in the top 1% of incomes in the UK?  This will be the BMA whose members complain about OOH services but want nothing to do with repatriating the service into their bailiwick?


I remember there was a time when the BMA sneezed and Health Ministers would run across Whitehall with a box of tissues.  Now I think the BMA could catch collective pneumonia and no one would care.  It is interesting how this once great trades union has lost its way.  I wonder what has happened to turn them into the bric-a-brac of NHS history.


I have no idea what it is like on the inside of the BMA but from the outside it looks confused when clarity is needed, carping about pay and rations when it should be worried about patients and reorganisation and at odds with each other when they need to speak with one voice. 


The problem as I see it; the BMA represents all doctors and every doctor.  GPs to brain surgeons and everyone in between.  Of course GPs will want services taken out of hospital.  Of course hospital consultants will want services to stay where they are.  Of course commissioning GPs don't want the legal liability for the quality of what they buy from another doctor, they don't trust each other.  Of course doctors with interests in private health businesses will want to sell their services to each other.  Of course some doctors will believe in a market driven health service and others won't.  Of course some doctors will be family practitioners and some will be international surgeons. 


And, I expect a fair few will say; there is more than enough money to run the NHS if we dumped the cost of commissioning, the CQC, Monitor, the market and all the other hangers-on with NHS in their title.  But, others will want to make money from it.      


How can one organisation represent such a diversity of membership skills, outlook and ambitions?  The BMA was founded in 1832, the same year as the first balloon flight.  A lot has changed since then but I get the feeling, not much at the BMA.  Maybe hot-air has become a tradition for them?


Isn't it time to break up the BMA?  Time for new organisations to represent the real on-line-24/7-data-rich-transparent-patient-enabled medical landscape of 2013.


Or, perhaps we should keep it;  because it
gives enlightened doctors something to resign from! 


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