S.M.A. Leaflet No. 5
HEALTH SERVICE OR "PANEL"
The public must soon make its choice. It may demand what it has been promised, a new type of health service; or it can allow vested interests to stand in the way of progress and be rewarded with a method of treating disease through an extension of the "panel," perpetuating all the worst features of present day medical practice.
A comprehensive national health service has long been a part of the programme of the Labour Party, and has been endorsed by every progressive organisation; as Assumption B of the Beveridge Report it was enthusiastically welcomed by every shade of opinion. As translated by the Government in [ ] White Paper, "A National Health Service," it promised a definite social advance, intended to make good the deficiencies of existing arrangements. It was to be available to everyone without class, social or financial distinction, and without any kind of hindrance to its use; it was to be free to all at the time of use. The intention was to provide for all, rich or poor, old or young, every form of medical advice and treatment: and to provide through one public service the best medical attention, disease prevention and health promotion. There was to be no more "panel or private." The new service was to be provided as an essential need of the people, theirs by right and not by charity.
B.M.A. Negotiates for Doctors
The White Paper scheme was accepted by Parliament and acclaimed by the people. Time was, rightly, allowed for discussion, and it was clearly necessary for the Government to discuss with the B.M.A. the terms and conditions under which the doctors would work in the new service. But the B.M.A. has held up legislation for more than a year by discussions which have seemingly never touched on the subject of the doctors' conditions, but have destroyed all hope of anything more ambitious than an extension of the panel. Once before a British Government prepared to deal with the problem of national health, but the attack of those with material interests in this field shaped the National Health Insurance scheme more than did the people.
The negotiations between the B.M.A. and the Ministry of Health have been conducted in secrecy and the result has been embodied in a document which remains secret although a copy has been sent to every doctor. The Minister has tried to pretend that he has made no new proposals, but he has promised that he will put them "to his colleagues as soon as he knows they commend themselves to the medical profession." These proposals destroy all hope of a comprehensive national health service and crystallise the attack that is to be made on local government by the Tories in an effort to delay and prevent all social advance which threatens privilege. Throughout the document the words patient and citizen do not appear and the discussions ignore the bulk of health workers although one or two references to dentists, nurses and pharmacists occur. Privileges are claimed for doctors which are denied to all other health workers and the need for teamwork in modern medicine is completely forgotten.