Sunday, July 13, 2008

The BMA Gets A Kicking Part 1

“The Nasty Doctor”

By Blad Tolstoy

Needless to say, this is a doctor friendly website. After all, with one member of the production team being a doctor, and the other having worked for the NHS three times in three different capacities, it would be odd if it wasn’t.

However, like many members of the public, including a number of doctors, there is a significant degree of concern with the way the BMA conducts itself these days. It is, essentially, a medical trade union although as a trade union it has, in many respects, exceeded even the NUM’s Arthur Scargill in being bossy and dictatorial.

Indeed, the BMA now believes in dictating our lifestyles and along with NICE (The National Institute for Clinical Excellence) it no longer thinks that people with “unhealthy lifestyles should receive NHS treatment, even though those people may have paid for that treatment many times over. Smokers, of course, are an important case in question, for though the payment of tax on the over-the-counter sales of tobacco products, plus the corporation tax levied on the profits of the tobacco companies, they permit the government to receive annual revenue to the tune of several billions of pounds. And all that on top of National Insurance contributions!

I was pleased then, this last week, to read Janet Daley in The Daily Telegraph, having a go at Dr Hamish Meldrum, head of the BMA. No, I said “ Hamish Meldrum” and not “Victor Meldrew”, but you may be forgiven for being confused about this as they are both rather nasty old buggers.

Anyway, Meldrum has angered patients' groups and fellow doctors by saying that current rules which prevent patients from combining private and NHS treatment – by stipulating that those who pay for any part of their care should pay for all of it – must be maintained.



This seems to have caused a particular furore amongst cancer patients, many of whom need to purchase their own additional treatments or top-ups to survive.

Meldrum was described as “cruel” and in denial about the current reality of the services that the NHS can afford to provide, and I must admit, it was good to hear of this off-white paragon of virtue getting a good kicking. Ever heard of the Hippocratic Oath, Hamish?

However, the good news doesn’t just end there, as my old pal Simon Heffer had a go too, in today’s Telegraph (12/7/08). This time it was in relation to the BMA’s comments on films. I shan’t say any more as I don’t want to spoil your appetite for this next little piece of dry caustic criticism delivered in a way that only Simon can.