BMA press releases archive

BMA News Press Release: Poll reveals doctors' concerns about commercialisation of NHS

(issued Friday 26 Jun 2009)

Doctors are extremely concerned about the impact of the independent sector on healthcare, a snapshot BMA News survey has indicated.

More than nine out of ten (94 per cent) of the 124 respondents to a poll for BMA News – the weekly magazine for BMA members – said they were worried about the future of their local health services if they were left to market forces.

And 86 per cent of the respondents did not think the provision of NHS services by commercial companies was a good idea.

Three quarters of doctors back the BMA’s own eight principles for a future NHS which is publicly funded and publicly provided.

Cornwall GP Dr Mark McCartney said: “The introduction of choice and competition has increased the cost of delivering healthcare and destabilised existing providers before the private sector can become properly established.”

Liverpool consultant in public health medicine Dr Richard Jarvis said: “The dogma that market forces produce the most efficient use of money has been shown to be catastrophically wrong by the credit crunch.”

The poll results were published as health minister Lord Darzi suggested the government could be re-examining its controversial PFI (private finance initiative) to fund hospitals and healthcare facilities.

He told BMA News: “That model of funding may have been the right model but I have no doubt that the Department [of Health] will be appraising whether that it is still the model for the future or whether there are other, better models.

“Quality is a moving target and PFIs have been very successful and might be in the future but it needs to be looked at.”

The BMA has repeatedly warned that PFI represents poor value for public money in the long term and more sustainable ways of building NHS capacity should be explored.

BMA Consultants Committee Chairman Dr Jonathan Fielden said: “We would urge the Department of Health to look again at PFI. The evidence is that there needs to be a fundamental review and we need to get something sustainable in a much harsher financial climate.”

Doctors at the BMA Annual Representative Meeting next week will debate whether further NHS commercialisation should be abandoned.


Notes to editors

The BMA’s eight principles for a publicly funded, publicly provided NHS, have been set out as part of the ‘Look After Our NHS’ campaign:

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