Welsh Doctor Leads Revolt On Policy

A leading doctor from South Wales has called for politicians to use frontline clinicians’ “wisdom and expertise” to help design patient-orientated health policies for Wales.

Dr Richard Lewis, Welsh secretary of the British Medical Association, said at the BMA’s annual meeting in Torquay that if the Assembly government engaged more fully with doctors, patients would get better health services. His comments come as the BMA delegates called for the NHS to be removed from direct government control.

The BMA voted in favour of the NHS being run by an independent board of governors, which includes “a substantial representation” of doctors and other health professionals, who would have a leading role in creating health policy.

Dr Lewis, a former GP in Maesteg, said, “If clinicians were engaged in greater detail they would be able to help design policies that meet the needs of the people of Wales and advise about how they should be delivered. Whether a frontline consultant, a doctor working in general practice or an academic in a teaching hospital, politicians need to call upon their expertise, wisdom and common sense of health services in Wales.”

Dr Lewis said there was a “desperate need” to re-examine a number of services, including stroke and palliative care. Dr Lewis’ comments reflect growing concerns within the BMA that health policy is being dictated by anonymous civil servants and is based on the need to win elections and justify election victories, rather than on patient need.