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Doctors reject ‘people power’

An interesting article from The Sunday Herald of Scotland:

Doctors’ and nurses’ leaders have rejected proposals that would allow members of the public to be directly elected to health boards over concerns it will make the NHS “too politicisedâ€?.

Bill Butler, Labour MSP for Glasgow Anniesland, introduced the Health Board Elections Bill to Holyrood in March, in an attempt to make boards more accountable and give patients more say in how local services are run.

The move was prompted by decisions by several health boards to cut services, such as the recent axing of the accident and emergency unit at Monklands Hospital in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, which sparked a public and political backlash.

Under the proposals, “first-past-the-postâ€? public elections would take place every four years through a postal ballot, to vote half of the board into office plus two members. Councillors and politicians would be barred from standing.

The remainder would be appointed as under the current system. NHS boards would meet the cost of elections from existing budgets.

Groups such as the British Medical Association (BMA) claimed that the decentralization was unnecessary because 1) it would make it even more difficult to make difficult medical care decisions and 2) the £1 million per year would be better spend on patient care.  Nevertheless, in a top-down system such as in Britain, taking away some control from the central government seems to me like a good idea for patients.