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By Ray Fleming

THE British Medical Council, which represents the overwhelming majority of British doctors, held its first emergency conference for twenty years on Tuesday; 300 doctors representing BMC divisions across the country attended and voted to denounce government plans for the reform of the NHS as “dangerous”.

The main concern of doctors is the commissioning and administrative roles they are to be given under the proposals in the Health and Social Care Bill which is currently being considered by the House of Commons. The doctors thus join NHS managers, health economists, think-tanks, trade unions, the House of Commons Health Select Committee, the Liberal Democrat party and many qualified individuals in calling on the government to think again about proposals which a strong body of expert opinion believes will cause confusion, increase costs and pave the way to a privatisation of the NHS while doing nothing to improve patient care.

The plan to put consortia of General Practitioners at the very heart of the NHS with substantial budgets to deploy is untried and places a heavy responsibility on medical professionals with little or no financial or administrative experience. It is the brain-child of the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley but it was in neither the Conservative Party manifesto at the general election nor the coalition agreement with the Liberal Democrats. It may fall to the House of Lords to force the government to reconsider this Bill.