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BMA chairman writes to doctors about “curate’s egg” white paper

2 August 2010

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The chairman of the British Medical Association has likened the government’s recent white paper on health to a “curate’s egg”, in a letter to doctors and medical students.

Dr Hamish Meldrum (pictured) writes that “many consider the white paper to be something of a large curate’s egg; good in parts, bad in parts, unclear in parts and even internally inconsistent in parts.”

One of the key proposals in the white paper is to devolve more involvement and financial control in commissioning to GPs. Dr Meldrum writes: “The BMA has made it abundantly clear that, for commissioning to be successful, there must be the fullest engagement with secondary care colleagues and, indeed, with the public.

“There is an opportunity here for doctors to take more control over their working lives and the design of services for their patients, but only by working together, in partnership, will doctors be able to maintain or even improve these services in these financially constrained times.

“Commissioning will also require high-quality management support and we fully expect that consortia will wish to engage with experienced NHS managers to work with them, both in developing their plans but also in the longer term.”

Dr Meldrum says that the BMA will “critically engage” with a consultation on the white paper to address doctors’ concerns and achieve the best outcomes for patients.


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