This is a picture of Dr Mark Porter, Chairman of the BMA Consultants & Specialists Committee. His task is to represent the interests of NHS Consultants and Staff Grades.........all of them.
So, what major issue of the day is Dr Porter concerning himself with? Is it perhaps the loss of child benefit for all those families who pay higher rate tax? This is something that will affect well over a million households, but it will affect every full time NHS Consultant and Staff Grade with children in Britain. Or is it perhaps the almost certain changes to our pension arrangements, where we will be working till 65 at least, paying more and receiving less. No it is neither of these.
What seems to be preoccupying Dr Porter and the BMA is the likely loss of the clinical excellence award. I say likely. To quote the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, who wants “to bring the scheme “up to date” and in line with other public sector pay schemes.” Bearing in mind that no other public sector pay scheme has anything remotely resembling CEAs Mr Lansley’s intentions are clear.
Dr Porter is not alone in defending the scheme, and is supported by other prominent members of the profession, mostly of course people who are in receipt of a CEA.
These people appear to me not only to be acting mostly in self interest, but also are acting under the influence of “bunker mentality”. They appear not to have noticed what is going on outside the citadel.
The truly staggering scale of the financial catastrophe that has engulfed this country is starting to become clear in the actions of the government. In addition to child benefit loss and pension cuts every other area of the public sector is suffering, leading to desperate measures. What is happening to our nursing colleagues is a good example within the NHS. There are cogent responses from nurse bloggers here and here.
But to grasp the true enormity of our financial predicament one has only to look at how the axe is falling on our armed forces. The Royal Navy looks set to lose half its fleet, the RAF may be abolished altogether, and the Army too is set to be slashed out of all recognition. All this at a time when our armed forces are more committed than at any time in the last 65 years.
And with all this desperate economising going on Dr Porter thinks he can persuade the government to retain a bonus scheme which arbitrarily benefits a minority of the highest paid public sector workers in Britain.
There are in my view only two possible explanations for Dr Porter’s view that NHS Consultants alone in Britain should be protected while everyone else in the country bears the financial pain. The first is that he is a man of so little perception that he has not noticed what is going on, in which case he is too small minded to be considered a fit person for his position. Alternatively he is fully aware of the circumstances and is pressing on anyway, in which case he is a man with no shame whatsoever.