Doctor quitting NHS over changes says Bottomley must go

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The Independent Online
Jeremy Lee-Potter, the former doctors' leader who is quitting the National Health Service in protest at the Government's health service changes, says that Virginia Bottomley, the Secretary of State for Health, has lost credibility and should be mo ved inthe next reshuffle.

Dr Lee-Potter, chairman of the British Medical Association council from 1990 to 1993, when he was voted out for being too soft on the Government, says that Labour may be the best hope for doctors.

Dr Lee-Potter's intention to retire early from his job as consultant haematologist with Poole Hospital NHS Trust, Dorset, was first disclosed in the Independent yesterday.

Today in the BMA News Review, Dr Lee-Potter, a Tory voter, says: "We are faced with an intransigent and unpopular government which continues to trample on our professionalism and ignore our advice ... Just as old Soviet-bloc politicians believed in State

Communism and a command economy, so this government is wedded to markets and competition. Such absolutism can only fail.

"Cannot Health Secretary Virginia Bottomley and her colleagues see the dangers of subjugating the profession in this way? Being a doctor is not the same as being a business executive or an advertising man or an industrial worker." Noting the ascendancy of hospital managers, he warns: "Lions led by donkeys have a habit of eating the donkeys in the end, and John Major would do well to remember this."

Dr Lee-Potter says that whoever is appointed Secretary of State for Health is unlikely to be able to change the direction of government policies.

"If this is the case, then doctors will have to recognise that their traditional conservatism and their professional ethos is at greater threat from a Conservative government than from a Labour government."

Margaret Beckett, Labour's health spokeswoman, said: "It becomes clearer every day that either ministers are lying about the true condition of the health service or they are completely out of touch with reality. It is truly sensational that Dr Lee-Potter, who has made no secret of the fact that he has been a long-time supporter of the Tory party now, in effect, saying that for the sake of the NHS this government must go." But Gerald Malone, the Health Minister, said: "The truth of the matter is, he [Dr Lee-Potter] seems to portray a service that no one else who is an outside observer really recognises any more."

Why I quit the NHS, page 18