Letter: Doctors for reform

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The Independent Culture
Sir: It is becoming a little wearing to see the British Medical Association repeatedly associated with the "forces of conservatism", with the implication that doctors are implacably opposed to the Government's reforming agenda for the NHS. That is emphatically not the case.

Colin Brown's article "New watchdog to crack down on medical blunders" (29 October) states that the Prime Minister "warned the BMA that the pace of change in the NHS would not be slowed, despite its protests". It would take an alert reader to spot that this is a reference to Mr Blair's party conference speech and was not contained in the speech from the Prime Minister launching the Commission for Health Improvement.

The British Medical Association has signalled its strong support for the work of the new Commission. Patients have the right to expect consistently high standards throughout the NHS. Doctors, managers and other health service professionals have a duty to learn from the example of those offering the best quality care and to act promptly to remedy weaknesses in performance.

Ironically, it is the medical profession's desire to achieve uniformly high standards of care which can lead to charge of "conservatism". The best doctors are both innovative and cautious. They are excited by the prospect of new treatment techniques, new systems and new drugs, but they expect them to be vigorously tested for safety and efficacy before they are routinely introduced.

Dr IAN BOGLE

Chairman of Council

British Medical Association

London WC1

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