The British Medical Association has voted to increase its opposition to the private finance initiative, following concessions won in Scotland, where the scheme has been vigorously opposed.
At the BMA's annual representative meeting in Belfast on Monday, doctors voted overwhelmingly for a campaign to raise public awareness of the effects of PFI for new hospitals.
Central consultants and specialists committee chair Peter Hawker said the initiative involved major bed cuts and represented inefficient use of resources 'which the public has a right to know about'.
The vote on PFI was one of a number of signs that doctors are disenchanted with the two year-old government.
BMA council chair Dr Ian Bogle told the ARM that the pace of change and the government's failure to consult on major initiatives such as walk- in primary care centres threatened the doctor-patient relationship. He said morale was as low as it was in 1992.
Criticisms of lack of consultation were quickly rebutted by the Department of Health, which said on Monday that it had received 91 bids for 20 pilot walk-in centres.