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Can politics be taken out of the (English) NHS?

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The BMA’s recent discussion paper A rational way forward for the NHS in England, while wishing to free the English NHS from day-to-day politics, merely shifts the locus of the political conflict.

In May this year, the British Medical Association (BMA) published a discussion paper entitled “A rational way forward for the NHS in England”, outlining the association’s suggestions for reform of the English NHS.1

The paper is worth reading for its insightful dissection and analysis of the current problems of the English NHS, as well as for its interesting but not totally unexpected conflation of professional and clinical with medical in most of the report. Many of the recommendations are eminently sensible, but some of the suggestions for reconfiguration of the highest-level structures of the English NHS are problematic and unrealistic. What the BMA wants is to free the English NHS from the influence of day-to-day politics by the establishment of a constitution and an independent board of governors, while keeping it free at the point of delivery and paid by general taxation. This is expressed in the first five of the total of 24 recommendations that outline the BMA proposals …

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  • Conflicts of interest: The author is a medical doctor and member of the BMA and married to an Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner employed by the Welsh NHS. He and his family are also users of the Welsh NHS.

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