The BMA says it is pleased to see tobacco control measures, and steps to enhance the quality of patient care, proposed in friday's (16 January, 2009) Health Bill. However, it has concerns about other proposals, such as personal care budgets for NHS patients.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of Council at the BMA, says:

"The public deserves a high quality, integrated, innovative NHS which focuses on their needs, and is clinically led in partnership with patients. Political ideology must not get in the way of this goal.

"While many aspects of this bill are positive, there are significant concerns. We await the outcome of the pilot of direct payments, but believe they may not be the best way of giving patients more power. It is currently very unclear how such a system would work in practice, for example what would happen when a patient's budget ran out. Moreover, this policy seems to further establish the idea of healthcare as a commodity, which the BMA does not believe is in patients' best interests."

On proposals to protect young people and children from the harm caused by smoking, Dr Meldrum says: "The BMA is very pleased that the Government is planning to introduce measures to protect children and young people from tobacco. Half of smokers will die because of their habit, so it is essential that children and young people don't start smoking. Some young people mistakenly believe smoking to be cool and glamorous but the truth is that it kills and destroys lives."

On proposals to encourage innovation and improve quality in the NHS, he adds:

"Doctors are at the forefront of innovation in the NHS. We welcome the government's commitment to continued improvements to the quality of services to patients."


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