So the BMA have had their special meeting and called on the Health Secretary to abandon the proposed NHS reforms.
As a hospital consultant I feel very much on the sidelines here, but some things are perhaps more obvious from that perspective.
Firstly, assume there were general consensus within the BMA and the profession at large. There is no doubt that the BMA are as effectual as this lot. They are completely ineffective and clueless when purporting to represent the profession as a whole. And don’t count on them to show enthusiasm if you need help as an individual. I have seen a colleague, a BMA member, request assistance with a bullying employer, who was simply fobbed off by the BMA. The harassment continued until the poor bugger resigned, the BMA having turned it’s back on him. They are the only union ever successfully sued by a member for failure to represent.(1) & (2)
But they don’t have a consensus. Even though the delegates at the meeting were generally united in opposition, wee Hamish, like a yapping west highland terrier came across as a Lansley apologist, effectively scuppering the stronger proposals.
As for the profession as a whole. There are many doctors who do not support the BMA on this issue, and 91% of 18,500 doctors polled by the BMA failed to respond, either because of apathy or opposition. With this level of support what could any representative body do?
Lansley is no doubt fully aware of the true level of threat posed by the BMA, on a par with a toothless and neutered miniature poodle, and has already announced that he is going to ignore them.
He is also aware of the profession’s achilles heel, and, Bevan like, knows that stuffing mouths with gold is going to undermine opposition even further.
As long as the profession are represented by the BMA we will never have any influence. As a lawyer friend of mine once observed, those who are members are wasting their money.