Mark Porter, chair of the British Medical Association Council, has declared himself “a Guardian reader as perhaps opposed to a Telegraph reader”.
Despite the notorious intensity of medical politics, it appears that those holding high office in the BMA can declare their media preferences without fear of editorial retribution from rivals.
Dr Porter’s comment was made, perhaps unsurprisingly, to The Guardian. He also focused on the issue of the narrowing of patients’ access to some treatments, less subtly known to the consumer media as “rationing”.
The consultant anaesthetist observed: “You see it happening in examples now, but it’s when it becomes service-wide in a few years’ time, if the current policies continue, that the population will notice in the wider sense.”
It is an issue where the BMA and health ministers essentially agree with each other - although the latter can hardly admit it.
The latest evidence of the Department of Health’s worries about cash-strapped local commissioners choosing to limit access to treatments and drugs came earlier last week. It gained coverage in The Daily Telegraph for plans to introduce “NHS scorecards” which will “‘eradicate variation’ in treatments on offer”.
The plans were first revealed about six months ago by NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson. If anything will materially “‘eradicate variation’ in treatments on offer”, surely it will be Sir David and his NHS Commissioning Board.
The Guardian belatedly picked up on the board’s July risk register, to report that the “new health quango” is “struggling to recruit enough expert staff”. A letter in the same paper noted: “It is ironic that on the same day you report on [those] difficulties… you publish adverts for four highly paid directors on the board.”