Doctors are angry, have lost confidence in the government, and morale is at an all time low, the BMA’s consultants’ leader will say today (Wednesday 6 June 2007).
In his speech to the annual consultants’ conference, Dr Jonathan Fielden, chairman of the BMA’s consultants committee, will warn incoming prime minister, Gordon Brown, that if he fails to listen and act upon the widespread fears and concerns about health policy, he risks destroying the NHS. He will say the government has ignored the profession at its peril.
Dr Fielden will say: “The profession is angry, it is angry with managers, with employers, but most of all we are all angry with the government for a woeful dereliction of duty, towards patients, towards the profession and towards the future.
“The profession is angry because of this government’s mishandling of the health service and has lost all confidence that the government can solve the problems it has created.
“Political meddling has brought the NHS to its knees. Unshackle the profession, give us back the health service and we will rebuild it. Fail to do so and you will rightly have a longlasting legacy to be condemned for destroying the best piece of social capital the country has ever had.”
In what is described at as a “handover” to Gordon Brown, Dr Fielden will give a devastating critique of the Government’s flagship health policies. He will say: “Policy so far is rightly criticised for lacking strategic direction. Pouring out initiative after initiative. Taking good principles and tying them up with bureaucracy and political necessity, killing off the benefit and leaving a distorted skeleton behind.”
The creation of an internal market has “redirected billions of pounds away from improving efficiencies into poor value for money schemes,” Dr Fielden will say. “The excessive use of private firms to provide NHS services has been costly, disruptive and has fragmented care. The independent sector should only be used where the NHS needs it, not thrust into its midst like a carelessly placed hand grenade.”
“The current cuts in services have been excessive,” he will say. “It is clear from the £500m excess now available, that the Department of Health, under treasury zeal, has cut too far, been too aggressive. It takes weeks to cut; it takes years to rebuild trust.”
Dr Fielden will urge Gordon Brown to work with doctors and other healthcare professionals, together with patients, to stem the loss of trust and confidence. He will say: “We will support change where it is safe, where it enhances services, where the profession is truly involved from the beginning, in partnership with patients. But we will not stand by let you damage patient care through rushed reforms and we will not stand by and see the Trojan horse of the independent sector rolled in to take over the health service from within. It is not better, it is not better value and above all it is not safer.”
“Morale is at an all time low, the vital element, the glue, the substance that has kept the health service going has been thrown away by political meddling. Morale must be rebuilt and the key to this is politicians listening, valuing and giving back leadership to the professions.”