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Government has “lost support” over NHS, says doctors’ leader

25 June 2007

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Gordon Brown was urged to make a new start with doctors today (Monday 25 June 2007) in the opening speech at the British Medical Association’s (BMA) annual conference.

Dr Sam Everington, Acting BMA Chairman, urged the new prime minister to avoid future agonies for the NHS – a health service in which doctors felt under attack.

Speaking to the conference of 500 UK doctors meeting in Torquay, he predicted difficult times ahead and said: “Doctors feel under attack, the government wants to turn everything into something that has just a monetary value. Vocation, dedication and lifetime commitment to patients and the NHS has little value in this new world – we are just financial commodities.”

In a message to Gordon Brown, he said: “Your government has lost support from many of the 1.3 million people who work for your NHS. Listen to us not because we are doctors but because we have given a lifetime of service to patients in the NHS – we are their champions.”

Dr Everington’s speech included discussion of:

  • The junior doctor training crisis – he called upon Gordon Brown to “end the misery of junior doctors and give them back their futures in the NHS.”
  • Teaching and research – “the loss of academics has serious consequences for teaching and research in the NHS and for the delivery of services to patients.”
  • NHS IT system: “What a sorry state the NHS IT system is in. Estimated costs of upward of £20bn, interminable delays, the chaotic shambles that is Choose and Book, growing concerns about patient confidentiality and security – it’s a wonderful exercise in how not to do things.”
  • Smoking bans – “we must campaign vigorously for a ban on vending machine sales of cigarettes and ask for packets of 10 to be scrapped. This will cut smoking in children.”
  • The future of the NHS – “everything we want to achieve in the next year will depend on us working and fighting together for a better future for our doctors and patients.”