The criticism by the British Medical Association (BMA) to the government’s plans for the NHS (Solidarity 3-196) is worth publicising. Doctors know better than most concerted laypersons what is wrong with the plans. But we shouldn’t be surprised either that they backed away from outright opposition.
Unions involved in the health service, particularly Unison and Unite, are woefully failing to fight healthcare privatisation and huge cuts. In these circumstances, it is tempting to get too over-excited about middle-class professionals speaking truth to the upper-classes.
There was a debate at the BMA and those who wanted outright opposition lost, alas. At the end of the day, however, there is no avoiding the fact that the big unions, and not just the BMA, have got to organise opposition or see jobs shed and transferred to the private sector, and the whole NHS reorganised on the model of US healthcare. The problem of deference also extends, I believe, to the fact that not enough NHS users are involved in health campaigns. Defending healthcare cannot just be left to the professionals.